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Author of 

'Under the Cottonwoods," "Winning or Losing?" "Land of 
the Laurel," "The Story of Daniel Boone," "A Practi- 
cal History of Music," "History of Pendleton County 
W. Va.," "History of Preston County, VV. Va.," 
"History of Monroe County, W. Va." "His- 
tory, of Highland County, Va.," "An- 
nals of Bath County, Virginia." 

Staunton, Virginia 

The McClure Co., Inc. 



Copyright, 1920 

BjTnt McCn'nt Co., Inc. 

All Righn Rricrvrd 


Part One : General History 


Introduction v 

I. The Local Geography 1 

II. Scenic Features 6 

III. The Ulsteniian and the Pathfinder 12 

IV. The Borden Land Grant 21 

V. Early Pioneer Days 33 

VI. Civil Government : 1737-1852 45 

VII. Annals of 1727-1777 54 

VIII. Strife with the Red Men 61 

IX. Rockbridge County Established 76 

X. The Calfpasture 83 

XL The War for Independence 92 

XII. Middle Period 104 

XIII. A Year of Suspense Ill 

XIV. The War of 1861 123 

XV. Recent Period 136 

XVI. The Negro Element HI 

XVII. The Town of Lexington 147 

XVIII. Buena Vista and Glasgow 153 

XIX. Villages, Hamlets, and Summer Resorts 156 

XX. Highways, Waterways, and Railways 161 

XXI. Industrial Interests 168 

XXII. The Churches of Rockbridge 172 

XXIII. Temperance Societies and Other Fraternities 180 

XXIV. Old Field Schools and Free Schools 183 

XXV. Washington and Lee University 188 

XXVI. The Virginia Military Institute 199 














Section I. 














The Ann Smith and Other Academics . 207 

The Franklin Society 214 

Journalism and Literature 217 

Old Militia Days 221 

A Rockbridge Hall of Fame . 224 

Stonewall Jackson at Lexington 233 

Robert L. Lee as a College President 238 

I-'amily Sketches and Biographic Paragraphs 244 

The MacCorklc Family 278 

Rockbridge in the World War 293 

Supplementary Items 299 

Rockbridge Inventions 307 

Part Iwu: Ue.nealoi.ic iMatlkial 

Introduction M7 

Given Names and Surnames 339 

Conveyances in Borden Tract, 1741-1780 H3 

Early Patents Outside the Borden Tract 35 1 

Secondary Land Conveyances Prior to 1778 355 

Tithablcs of 1778 Mj5 

Taxpayers of 1 782 370 

Taxpayers of 1841 378 






. 456 

Present Surnames 

Militia Officers Prior to 1816 

Soldiers of the Revolution 

R(»ckbridgc Artillery 

Soldiers of the World W'ai 

\*arious Lists 

Miscellaneous Data 46Q 

Appendices 547 

Errata ... 568 

Supplementary Items 569 


^^;N THE summer of 1917 the writer visited Lexington to see if there 
was a practical desire for a history of Rockbridge. The encourage- 
ment was such as to lead him to undertake writing one, and the pres- 
ent volume is the result. 

All the magisterial districts were visited. The public records of the county 
were attentively examined, as were also the early records of the parent counties, 
Orange, Augusta, and Botetourt. The archives in the capitol and the state library 
at Richmond were freely consulted, as were likewise various books in public and 
private collections. The files of the local newspapers yielded much valuable ma- 
terial. The documentary history of Rockbridge is practically continuous, and it 
proved necessary to make the utmost possible use of it. 

County history is either general or genealogic. It is general, when it deals 
with the people of a county as a community. It is genealogic, when it deals with 
the same people as made up of families and attempts to trace lines of descent 
from the pioneer ancestors. 

Either of these two aspects of local history is the complement of the other. 
John Dee may be pleased to find that his great grandfather, Adam Dee, came 
into the county a hundred and fifty years before the date of his own birth, bought 
the John Smith farm, and reared ten children, nearly all of whom married and 
from whom have come grandchildren and great grandchildren. But John Dee 
should not assume that persons who are neither cousins nor near-cousins will 
grow enthusiastic in viewing the intricate branches of the family tree. To 
them it is little else than a dry network of names and dates, unless one or more 
members of the connection have done something that is a good deal out of the 
ordinary. But if we seek to know the times in which Adam Dee and his sons 
lived ; to learn how they dressed, labored, and housed themselves, and what was 
the environment, physical, civil, and social, in which they were placed: we then 
have begun to put flesh and blood into the skeleton of names and dates, and have 
created a degree of living interest that is not confined to John Dee and his kins- 
folk. An interpretation to them becomes an interpretation to others. 

This book is therefore divided into two sections. The one dealing with the 
general history of Rockbridge begins with a survey of the geographic and scenic 
features of the county, this being necessary to an adequate understanding of the 
development of the past two centuries. It then explains whence the pioneer 
families came and why they came, and in what manner they established them- 
selves in the wilderness. It attempts to trace the civic, social, religious, educa- 
tional, and industrial unfolding that has since taken place. It tells of the growili 

oi n liU 1 - li i.opulation, and of the steady outflow of people that has been true of 
this repion from the start. So far as could conveniently be done, documents have 
been allowed to speak for themselves. In a word, litis first portion of the volume 
aims to present the Story of Rockbridjjc since the beginning of white settlement 
in 17.17. What took place Inrtwccn that date and the war of 1861 is rather un- 
familiar to the people who are doing the work of the county to<iay. The sources 
of information for that long perio<l are fragmentary and are tedious to consult. 
The compiler has therefore given sjK'cial attention to the years that lie iii.iinlv or 
wholly beyond the practical recollection of any person now living 

Some explanation of the second or gencalogic section of this book may be 
found in the introduction to Part Two. 

As a subject of local history, the annals of Rockbridge arc of much more 
than ordinary interest and value. Tlic presentation of them in book form has 
been seriously thought of, at one time or another, by several of the native citi- 
zens. The matter was urged upon Captain J. D. Morrison in 1894. In the 
same year it was suggested that a club be formed to gather facts concerning the 
prominent names in Rockbridge history. But while, with respect to county his- 
tories in general, certain things arc obviously in favor of the native historian, 
observation shows that he seldom gets down to the task. This is largely because 
he sees no end to the material which is constantly coming to light. He may give 
one, two, or five years to his task, and all the while be turning up fresh soil. 
But unless the undertaking is in every respect a labor of love, there is a limit to 
the time and expense which may he given. The historian who is a stranger is 
not beset with the antagonisms which are nearly sure to affect the labors of the 
native. The very fact that he is a stranger makes it the more easy to be judicial 
and to deal with his subject from a broad angle. Xevertheless, he starts in 
under a handicap of unfamiliarity with his chosen field. He is very much in need 
of a live cooperation on the part of the inhabitants. This cooperation needs to 
l>e active and not passive. 

During a number of weeks, reading notices relating to liu- i-iiu-rpriM' ap- 
jK-ared in the newspapers of Lexington. The compiler hoped thus to come in 
touch with many persons who could supplement the data he was gleaning from 
the public documentary sources. The res|)onses were few and not all the aid 
promised was forlhconiing. Personal calls were made by him whenever they 
were asked. If the chapters on biography and family history, as well as certain 
tabulations, are here and there deficient, this paragrai)h will afford some ex- 
planation. However, our country was at war while this work was being done. 
an<l the minds of the people were much engrossed by this circumstance. 

If this lK»ok were to be offered at a "reasonable price." it had to be written 
within a certain limit of time and printed within a certain limit of cost. It was 
therefore necessary to be concise in statement. There was a sharp limit to the 
space which couhl \>c devoted to any given topic. The exceptions arc where such 
space has been paid for by specially interested individuals. 

Several residents of Rockbridge have aided very materially by contributing 
oral or written information, donating or loaning books or other published ma- 
terial, or extending courtesies in hospitality or travel. Particular acknowledge- 
ment is thus due to William A. Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. Walter W. Dunlap, 
Frank T. Glasgow, Mr. and Mrs. William G. Houston, Mr. Henkle, of Buena 
Vista, Mrs. G. A. Jones, Harry O. Locher, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Lockridge, 
Joseph R. Long, James H. McCown, Emmett W. McCorkle, Daniel W. McNeil, 
Mrs. Graham Montgomery, General E. W. Nichols, J. A. Parker, Earle K. 
Paxton, J. Sidney Saville, Dr. Henry Louis Smith, Harrington Waddell, and 
Hugh J. White. The McCormick portion of the chapter on Rockbridge is from 
the pen of Doctor J. H. Latane of Johns Hopkins University. The material for 
the sketch of the McCorckle family has been contributed by William A. Mac- 
Corkle, ex-governor of West Virginia, and several other members of the McCorkle 
connection. Other assistance from without the country has been given by J. J. 
Echols, O. C. Ruley, and Kate M. Jordan. 

There is further acknowledgement to Boutwell Dunlap, of San Francisco, 
who has heretofore furnished the compiler with some data for his histories of 
Bath and Monroe. He has opened to him all his manuscript material relating to 
Rockbridge. Mr. Dunlap's manuscript collections on the history and genealogy 
of the Valley of Virginia and Western Virginia are said to be the largest in 
America. His interest in this history of Rockbridge is in remembrance of his 
father, William Dunlap, a native of Rockbridge, a respected California pioneer 
of 1849, one of the largest landholders of the Sacramento valley, and a member 
of one of the most prominent family connections of the Valley of Virginia and 
the West. Mr. Boutwell Dunlap's aid has been especially helpful in affording 
material for chapters X, XXXL and XXXIV. and Section XIV. 

In making most grateful recognition to all the above named persons, the 
author does not mean to withhold his thanks from anyone else who has, even 
if in a small way. shown an active interest in the preparation of this history. This 
book is the first history of Rockbridge that has been written. It represents 
eighteen months of hard work. No statement has gone into these pages without a 
careful scrutiny. Yet it should be borne in mind that there is no claim for im- 
munity from error in statements of fact or in the spelling of proper names. The 
man or woman who can write a local history and escape censure is not to be found 
on this side of the millenium, even by the "efficiency engineer." Another crafts- 
man than the one who does write the book could probably do better in some one re- 
spect, or in several. The pertinent question is whether in the long run he could 
have done as well. The person who is keen in looking for flaws in a county his- 
tory will do well to remember that the reviewers often find glaring misstatements 
in works intended to be authoritative ; and that Joseph E. Worcester, the lexi- 
cographer, said that no amount of care will render even an unabridged dictionary 
exempt from error. 

When an omission or inaccuracy is noticed, one reader will at once denounce 
the entire book and excoriate tiic author. Another reader will write a correction 
on the margin of tlic page. Copies of the book thus annotated arc more valuable 
than others, especially to the local historian of the future. And unlike the 
generality of books, the county history does not depreciate in financial value. It 
commantls a higher price as it grows scarce. The owner of such a book has 
made a safe investment, and if he takes jealous care of his purchase posterity 
will thank him for doing so. 

Oren F. Morton. 
Staunton, Virginia, September 28. 1918. 




Position and Size — Boundaries — Mountains — Lowlands — Streams — Geology — Soils — Cli- 
mate — Plants and Animals — Divisions — Place Names — 
NATURt\L Advantages 

There is but one Rockbridge County in the United States. The unique name 
is due to a great natural curosity within its Hmits. 

The position of the county is nearly midway in the longer direction of the 
Valley of Virginia. The latitude — mostly to the south of the thirty-eighth par- 
allel — is that of the center of Kentucky, the south of Missouri, and the center 
of California. In Europe it is that of the south of Spain and the island of Sicily. 
In Asia it is that of central Asia Minor and central Japan. 

In form, Rockbridge is an irregular rectangle, the longer direction being 
nearly northeast and southwest. The length of the county is nearly thirty-two 
miles, and the extreme breadth is nearly twenty-six miles. The area is officially 
stated as 593 square miles, which is considerably more than is true of the average 
county in Virginia. 

The curving eastern boundary follows for forty miles the crest of the Blue 
Ridge, and is therefore a natural geographic line. The western line begins 
on Camp Mountain, and passes to North Mountain, then to Mill Mountain, 
and finally to Sideling Hill. The short lines by which the boundary crosses 
from one to another of these elevations are determined by valley-divides, so 
that the western boundary may likewise be regarded as natural. But the northern 
and southern boundaries of the county are straight lines, entirely artificial, and 
they set it off as a cross-section of the Valley of Virginia. 

The Blue Ridge is not a single well-defined mountain range. Looking from 
the high ground along the Valley Railroad, there is seen in the east a succession 
of bold elevations. The nearest are heavy foothill ridges. Beyond are the 
higher fragments of interior ridges, marked ofT from one another by depressions 
more or less deep. These intermediate heights afford only occasional glimpses 
of the central range. Consequently, the general appearance of the mountain wall 
is that of a labyrinth of long and short elevations occupying a considerable 
breadth of country. But on the western side of Rockbridge, the ranges are 
single and well-defined, and present sky-lines that are fairly regular. For several 
miles east of the axis of North Mountain, much of the surface is occupied by 


short parallel ridges of much the same character as North Mountain itself. 
Some of these are the House mountains. Camp Mountain, Green Mountain, Little 
North Mountain, the Jump, and the Loop. The most eastern is the uplift known 
as the Short Hills. These break down rather abruptly near the course of 
BufTalo Creek, but Ix-yond they reappear under the name of the Brushy Hills. 

The space between the two mountain systems may be termed the Central 
Lowland. It runs the entire length of the county. On the east it is bordered 
by the bottoms along South and North rivers, and by Sailing's Mountain, which 
is an outlier of the Blue Ridge, though lying to the west of the James. In the 
north the breadth of this lowland is more than ten miles. At the south it is 
scarcely half as much. It is by far the most populous area in Rockbridge. 

In general the contour of the county is mountainous. The Blue Ricigc 
section is interrupted only by such narrow depressions as Arnold's N'alley and 
the valleys of Irish Creek and the Little Mary. The surface of the Central 
Lowland is heavily rolling. Between drainage basins it rises into divides of 
considerable altitude. Westward is the mountainous belt already mentioned. 
It includes a number of well populated creek valleys. In the extreme northwest 
is a section of the Iwsin known as the Pastures. Southward it is prolonged into 
the wilderness drained by Bratton's Run. 

The highest point in the Rockbridge section of the Blue Ridge appears to 
be Bluff Mountain with an altitude of 3250 feet. The northern point of the 
Short Hills has a height of 2565 feet. Adcock's Knob in North Mountain 
has a height of 3325 feet, and the Jump of 3190. Big House and Little House 
mountains are respectively 3612 and 3410 feet high, and seem to be the most 
elevated ground in the county. 

The entire area of Rockbridge lies in the basin of tlic James. This river 
courses ten miles through the southeast of the county. North River, which 
joins it inmiediately above Balcony I'alls, flows not less than fifty miles within 
the confines of R<Kkbridgc and drains seven-eights of its area. It rises in 
Shenandoah Mountain, and as the Great Calfpasture it flows southwardly to 
Goshen Pass, just alx)vc which it is joined by the Little Calfpasture, also running 
in the same direction. A little farther alwve are the mouths of Mill Creek and 
Bratton's Run. A mile Ik-Iow Goshen the river l)egins to flow scjuarely toward 
the Blue Ridge, and below its junction with the Little Calfpasture it l»ecomes 
known as North River. After passing into the limestone region of the Central 
lowland, its course, which is now a succession of large loops, is first south- 
ward, then southea'Hward, and finally southward again. The largest tributary is 
Bufl'alo Creek, which is itself entitled to l)e called a river. It rises near the 
southwest corner of R.c<kbri<lge, and has a broad, rapid course of ab(}Ut twenty- 
five miles. Hays Creek, the next largest affluent, rises in Augusta, and alravc 


New Providence is known as Moffett's Creek. Its largest tributary is Walker's 
Creek, which also rises in Augusta. South River, which hugs the foothills of 
the Blue Ridge and consequently pursues the same general direction, likewise 
has its source in Augusta. Irish Creek and the Little Mary, both heading in 
the Blue Ridge, are its only important tributaries. Kerr's Creek parallels the 
Buffalo, but has a much shorter course. Still smaller affluents of North River 
are Whistle Creek, Mill Creek, Back Creek, Woods Creek, Borden's Run, and 
Poague's Run. Below the mouth of North River are Arnold's and Cedar 
creeks, flowing directly into the main stream. 

Small watercourses are rather many in Rockbridge, and even the Central 
Lowland is better supplied with running water than are some other limestone 
districts. And because its streams are geologically old, Rockbridge is without 
lakes or ponds. 

The geological structure of Rockbridge is very ancient, although its rocks 
are not among the very oldest of the stratified formations. The age of the rocks 
renders it quite useless to expect to find coal, oil, or natural gas, although by 
the same token we do find the mountains well stored with that most necessary 
metal, iron. Other metallic and mineral riches are manganese, marble, kaolin, 
limestone, fireclay, gypsum, barytes, and even tin, a metal with which the United 
States is sparingly endowed. 

The Central Lowland is preeminently the agricultural district of Rockbridge, 
and here the soil is a heavy loam, intermediate in color between the light and the 
dark shades, and resting on limestone strata. The rock formation is generally 
tilted to a considerable angle, and crops out in ledges or in rocky slopes, and an 
occasional sinkhole manifests its presence. The bottoms along the rivers and the 
larger creeks are variable in width, and have a soil which is dark in color and 
somewhat sandy in texture. Much more stony than other soils and the least 
desirable for general farming are those of the mountain slopes. No large inroad 
has been made into these, except where they merge into bench or bottom lands. 

The climate of Lexington is a fair average for that of the county in general. 
The mean annual temperature of the county seat is fifty-four degrees, which is 
slightly below that of the city of Washington, the effect of a more southern 
latitude being more than offset by the very much greater altitude. With respect 
to the seasons, the mean temperatures are 34.5 in winter, 53.8 in spring, 72.2 
in summer, and 55.4 in fall. The coldest month is February, with a mean of 
33.5 ; the hottest is July, with a mean of Th7. But during a period of twelve 
years, the mean of the coldest month varied from 26.4 degrees to 40.8, and 
that of the hottest month from 63.9 to 78. In the average year, the range of 
the thermometer is from a minimum of L5 degrees to a maximum of 96. But 
temperatures of 101 degrees above zero and sixteen below have been observed. 


The yearly rainfall of forty inches is well distributed among the seasons, yet 
is heaviest in summer and lightest in the fall. June is ordinarily the wettest 
month and November the driest. The average period between killing frosts 
is from April 24th to October 15th. 

Two inches of sleet in December. 1907, caused a rare beauty of "icc- 
scaj)*." A hailstorm on Colliers's Creek, June 8, 1909. completely destroyed all 
criiph in its path and even killed fish in the stream. In the mountain hdUovvs 
the huge pellets did not entirely disappear for several days. 

But there arc wide variations in the climate of Rockbridge. Frost has 
been known in every month except July, although one fall was so mild as to be 
without a killing frost till the end of November. In the winter of 1855-56, 
there was sleighing for six weeks, and the ice in the North River canal inter- 
rupted navigation for two months. Two years later, there was no ice in the 
canal worth mention until March 5th. Snow fell to a depth of eighteen inches. 
October 24. 1854. There was a heavy fall May 20. 1857, and it lay several days 
on the Blue Ridge. In the spring of 1859, trees were nearly in full leaf April 
23, more than three weeks in advance of the usual time. Fires and warm 
clothing were needed during the third week of August, 1866. Rain fell to the 
depth of four and two-third inches. September 22, 1907, and in the Kerr's Creek 
valley the precipitation for the month was 15.9 inches. High winds are not 
unknown. Floods arc sometimes very serious, as in 1870, 1877, and 1913. There 
is no proof of any material change in climate since the Rockhridjje area* iK-canie 
known to white people. There was a severe drouth in 1758, and another about 
1751, the earlier one causing a local famine. 

Since the surface is divcrsitied, the drainage nearly perfect, and the average 
altitude nut far short of 1500 feet, the air is bracing and health conditions are 
naturally very good. The annals of the county disclose many instances of long- 
evity. Tlie ailments of most freijuent occurrence appear to be those of the re- 
spiratory organs. Typhoid fever, a disease due to defective sanitation, has 
several times seriously interrupted the schools of Lexington. Smallpox has Ix-en 
an occasional visitor. 

The soils of Rockbridge take kindly to a covering of grass, so that the 
county is well adapted to grazing as well as to the general farm crops. But 
where nature has her way. she everywhere covers the hills and valleys with 
a diversified forest growth. The prevailing wo<hI is oak, chestnut, elm, hickory, 
walnut, pci|)Iar, sycamore, an<l other deciduous trees. Pine occurs in some 
localities and cedar is still more conunon. Among the numerous shrubs is the 
mountain laurel in the high, shaded hollows. The wild fruits include the black- 

*B)' "RockbrirlKC area" i« inranl tlir K''<>Rra|ihic »|>acr within the present Hinit* of the 
county, and at though such hniii^ li:>vr rMisinl fur an indchnite time. 


berry, the common and the mountain raspberries, strawberries, huckleberries, 
mulberries, and pawpaws. 

The animal life is of the kinds found in the Valley of Virginia. The buffalo 
and the elk disappeared soon after white settlement began. The puma and 
the wolf held their ground much longer, but are now extinct. The mountains 
shelter an occasional black bear and a few deer. Such predatory pests as wild- 
cats, foxes, and skunks still remain. Groundhogs, rabbits, and squirrels are 
tolerably plentiful. Still other mammals are raccoons, opossums, otters, and 
mink. The wooded surface attracts birds in considerable variety, such as tur- 
keys, ducks, cranes, pheasants, hawks, owls, woodpeckers, pigeons, thrushes, 
crows, robins, partridges, larks, doves, catbirds, and redbirds. In the mountains 
are eagles, buzzards, and ravens. Fish would be more abundant but for the 
pollution of some of the streams by sawmilling and mining. There are the 
usual insects native to this part of America, but the mosquito is not a nuisance. 
In a single season, a few years ago, the bounty of fifty cents a head on chicken- 
hawks was paid on 469 of these birds of prey. They were about one-half of a 
flock that came from the west. 

Rockbridge is bordered by the counties of Augusta, Nelson, Amherst, Bed- 
ford, Botetourt, Alleghany, and Bath. Its magisterial districts are six. Buffalo 
lies in the southwest, Natural Bridge in the southeast, South River in the north- 
east, Walker's Creek in the northwest. In the central west is Kerr's Creek, and in 
the center is Lexington District. The corporation of Buena Vista is a seventh 
political subdivision. 

The names borne by the streams and mountains of Rockbridge have in a 
number of instances undergone no change since the exploration by the white 
pathfinders. North River was for a while styled the North Branch of the James. 
Until about 1760, South River was the River Mary, and Kerr's Creek was 
Tees Creek. The pioneers seem to have given names to all the water-courses, 
small as well as large, but some of their designations have gone out of use. 
In several instances some peculiar happening appears to have suggested the 
name. Thus, Whistle Creek was at first known as Can't Whistle Creek. 

As a place for white occupancy, Rockbridge has natural advantages of a 
superior character. The climate is temperate and invigorating. Much of the 
soil is fertile, and the hillsides not brought under tillage are very useful for pas- 
turage and as a forest reserve. The mineral wealth is very considerable, as is 
also the water power. And finally, the passes at Balcony Falls and Panther 
Gap have caused the county to be traversed by important railway lines. 



KocKBRiOGE LANDScArES — Thk Kati'ilal Buoge — Goshen Pass — Baixosy Falls — House 

Mountains — The Jump 

Appalachian America is renowned for its scenic beauty, and Rcnrkbridgc 
county lias been granted an ample share. The Blue Ridge and the Alleghanies 
are geologically very old and have been eroded into a very great complexity of 
outline. Because of this wearing-down process, they do not exhibit the great 
elevations and the rugged features of young mountain systems, such as the 
Rockies and the Alps. But on the other hand there is more gracefulness of 
contour, the effect of which is greatly aided by the loveliness of the Appalachian 
forests in the summer season. 

The five points of interest we are about to describe do not by any means 
exhaust the list of scenic attractions in Rockbridge county. Monotony is 
never present in the landscape. In touring this region, the visitor travels many 
miles in the thriving agricultural expanse of the Central Lowlands, dotted with 
its scores of comfortable farm homes; he passes through areas of more fertile 
bottom land, like the "Eg)-pt field" of Kerr's Creek; he crosses the deep valley 
of the Buffalo, and follows the narrow, thickly populated creek valleys that 
lie in the evening shadows thrown by the North Mountain. And when his 
road crosses a mountain ridge, there is likely to be a <klightful view that sweeps 
far out upon the lower levels. 

Foremost among the scenic features is the world-famous Natural Bridge, 
to which the county owes its name. John Marshall, the chief justice, called this 
natural curiosity, "one of God's greatest miracles in stone." It was almost as 
well known to the Americans of threc-fotirths of a century ago as it is to 
those of the present day. It was represented by crude woodcuts in their school 
geographies, and in some other books of wide distribution. In the school reader 
was a thrilling account of how some foolhardy person tried to carve his name in 
the rock at a greater height than anyone else had reached. Kver since illustratetl 
books on America have Ixrcn on the market, the Natural Bridge has ranked with 
Niagara Falls as one of the most prominent subjects of pictorial art. By 
common consent it is one of the wonders of the Western World It is, however, 
no more remarkable than the twin Tower Rocks of Pendleton county. West 
Virginia; but these arc concealed in an almost unknown mountain hollow. It 
is less stupendous than the recently discovered natural bridges in Utah; l»ut these 
lie in an arid and almost inaccessible region. 


An explanation of the Natural Bridge of Virginia is not at all difficult. 
The Central Lowland of Rockhridge owes its existence and its peculiarities to 
the thick stratum of limestone that is not everywhere concealed by the surface 
soil. This layer, in common with the sandstones and shales of the mountain 
ridges, has been bent into almost every possible angle by upward thrusts 
coming from the interior of the earth. These titanic forces seam the rocks with 
lines of cleavage, both lateral and vertical. Into these narrow openings water 
forces its vVay, and when in the form of ice it acts as a lever to pry the seams 
farther apart. When charged with acids drawn from the air and from vegetable 
matter, water is a powerful solvent of limestone. The narrow crevice becomes 
broad; the shallow parting becomes deep. The rock deposit becomes honey- 
combed with water-channels, small and large. The water from the clouds ceases 
to flow on the surface, and finds its way into underground passageways. Ex- 
tensive caverns are thus eaten into the limestone, and as these spread themselves 
laterally, the roof becomes weak, and here and there it falls. On the surface a 
limited area of subsidence is indicated by a sinkhole. When the underground 
stream has grown large and powerful, the roof gives way entirely for long dis- 
tances. The creek now becomes visible, though flowing in a deep gorge. But 
atmospheric agencies begin at once to lessen the steepness of the walls of the 

It is to the working of the process just described that the Natural Bridge 
owes its existence. Cedar Creek is a mountain stream rising in the Short 
Hills. After a quite direct course of hardly more than six miles it falls into 
the James at Gilmore Station. At some remote day it behaved like certain of 
the present watercourses in Monroe county, West Virginia. A short distance 
below its source it was drawn into a sinkhole and reappeared near the bank of the 
river. Little by little the roof of the subterranean channel collapsed. Nothing 
is now left but the arch where the support was thickest and strongest. This 
fragment is the Natural Bridge. It is significant that for a short distance, above 
and below, there is a precipitous wall on either side of the little stream. But 
although the slopes soon become much less abrupt, there is an extent of perhaps 
three miles within which it would be very difficult to build a road across the 
valley. The massive arch comes to the rescue by providing a perfectly easy 
passage, and a county road has used it since a very early day. 

To view the bridge from below the visitor starts from the Natural Bridge 
Hotel and follows a path leading down a ravine to the brink of the creek. Look- 
ing upward, a sheet of limestone, sixty to 150 feet broad and with a span of 
ninety feet, is seen to connect the opposing cliffs. It is 215 feet to the arch, 
which is forty-eight feet thick. Almost overhanging the upper edge of the 
arch are the tops of trees and shrubs. Because of these the stranger traveling 


the county road is hardly aware when he is upon the bridge. The surface of the 
rock-wall under the arch scarcely permits any foothold for vegetation. The 
stone presents some diversity of color, the yellowish and reddish tints being 
due to iron oxide, better knowii as iron rust. When the trees are in full leaf, 
the gorge is shaded and cool, and the ruggedncss of the canyon is greatly soft- 
ened. But at any season the visitor can hardly fail to be impressed with the 
grandeur of the spectacle. 

The Rockbridge pioneers must have known of the bridge from an early day, 
but we have no evidence that it made much impression on their matter-of-fact 
minds. The earliest published mention is by the English traveler, Rurnaby, 
who wrote in 1759. It was twenty years later that lightning struck the arch 
and threw down a large mass of rock. The original patentee of the bridge, in- 
cluding some land immediately around, was not an actual settler, but a non- 
resident living in Albemarle. This was Thomas Jefferson, and the date of his 
patent is July 5, 1774. During the Revolution the bridge was twice visited by 
French scientists. The picture made from their measurements and diagrams 
was widely copied and was about the only one known prior to the invention of 

After JefTerson became President, he surveyed and mapped his patent 
with his own hands. The next year he built a two-roomed log cabin, and left it 
in charge of a negro named Patrick Henry. One of the rooms was to be kept 
open for the entertainment of visitors. He also left a large book in which 
visitors might record their "sentiments." This was written full, but was ac- 
cidentally destroyed in 1845. The property did not pass out of the JefTerson 
estate until 1833. It is to be regretted that the author of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence did not convey this ground tfi the State, or to the National govermiii-nt. 
so that it might at all times be freely open to the public, as in the case of the 
Yosemitc Valley of California. 

It was in 1802 that JefTerson built the cabin above mentioned. Ever since 
that time the bridge has been much visited. Marshall. Monroe, Clay, \'an 
Huren, J.ickson, Benton, and Houston were among the earlier of the ,'\merican 
not.ibilities who have viewed this "bridge not made with hands." 

When he was a young man. the agile and well-nniscled Washington climbrd 
to a niche some twenty feet above the waters and carved his name. This exploit 
was very much exceeded by Piper, a foolhardy student. He placed his 
n: ■ ""T than anyone else had done, and finding he could not return he ac- 

c , 1 the almost incredible feat of climbing to the tfip. .'\ very narrow 

Tcdgc. perhaps a hundred feet above the creek level, is pointed out as the place 
another person reached, but he to l>e rescued by means of a rope let down 
from the top of the cliff. Several other individuals have been less fortunate. 


and a few fatalities are on record. In 1843 a stranger leaped from the bridge. 
If he intended to commit suicide, he acconnplished his purpose. 

Goshen Pass was formerly known as Dunlap's Gap and then as Strickler's 
Pass. It extends from near the mouth of the Little Calfpasture to Wilson's 
Springs, a distance of five miles. Just below the mouth of the tributary men- 
tioned. North River begins its sinuous passage of the North Mountain. The 
heights, which sometimes tower a thousand feet above the swirling waters, are 
not generally so steep as to be destitute of a growth of wood, and in summer 
the forest verdure adds much to the grace and beauty of the scene. Yet here and 
there is a vertical ledge exhibiting the flexures worked into the stratum by the up- 
ward pressure of the earth's crust in remote geologic periods. The river is 
constantly flowing over or among masses of rock and is a continuous cascade. A 
new vista opens with every bend in the road, and the stranger who goes from one 
end of the pass to the other and then retraces his steps finds the return nearly 
as replete with interest as the advance. There is not a house and not an acre 
of tilled land within the pass, and the view is well-nigh as primeval as it was 
in the day of the Indian. And yet the road was once a busy thoroughfare, a 
line of stages running between Lexington and Goshen. 

When Matthew F. Maury was a resident of Lexington, he liked to visit this 
watergap in early summer. His admiration for it was so great that one of his 
final requests was that his remains should be taken to their permanent resting 
place by way of Goshen Pass, and when the laurel should be in bloom. This 
dfrection was faithfully carried out. In going through the pass the procession 
halted a while at the foot of a low clifT and below a sharp point of rock pro- 
jecting over the road. Soon afterward, an anchor, taken from the pontoon 
bridge left at East Lexington by General Hunter ; was suspended from the pro- 
jection. With a strange want of consideration, this suitable memento was at 
length taken down by some person and carried away. It was the abundance of 
rhododendron along the river border that caused a very narrow belt of low 
ground to be named Poison Bottom. Fresh herbage is so eagerly devoured by 
domestic animals in early spring that they will eat laurel leaves when nothing 
else is to be had and sickness is the result. 

Another interesting watergap is the pass at Balcony Falls. This is one of 
the two places in Virginia where the Blue Ridge opens to its base, so as to permit 
the passage of a river. Looking from the town of Glasgow, a stranger might 
not suspect the existence of the gap. He will imagine that an exceedingly nar- 
row valley is making a zigzag approach to the west from the axis of the Blue 
Ridge. As in the case of Goshen Pass, there is not a house in the four miles 
of the passage. The mountain slopes are unbroken by clearings, and except for 
the railway and the county road, the scenery is that of the virgin wilderness. The 



James falls atxjut 200 feet in going through the defile, and in the days of batteau 
navigation it was a danger point. 

To the person standing on Collcpe Hill at Lexington, the view toward the 
west is dominated hy an inij)i>siiig height of unusual form. This is Little House 
Mountain, and it has carried this name ever since the day of the white explorer. 
The name was evidently suggested hy the shape of the elevation. The smnmit, 
half a mile lung, is almost horizontal. At each end there is an abrupt falling 
away, the mountain terminating in either direction in a concave slope of heavy 
grade. The eastward and westward slopes are likewise steep, and all the way 
around the mountain is an unbroken forest rising from a stony surface. When 
the obser\'er changes his point of observation to Fancy Hill or to the divide be- 
tween Kerr's Creek and North River, he discovers the existence of Big House 
Mountain, which from Lexington is almost completely eclipsed by its companion. 
The two mountains lit side by side, and are parallel to North Mountain. The 
distance from summit to summit is less than a mile, and the valley between is 
very deep. Big House Mountain is camel-hacked and is the higher of the two, 
although the difference in altitude is not consjiicuous. Since the House moim- 
tains rise like islands from the floor of the Valley of Virginia, their isolation, 
their lofty summits, and their exceptional form render them a striking feature 
in a Rockbridge lantlscape. They may be seen to good advantage from the 
Matthews mansion near Glasgow, fifteen miles away as the crow flies, and on a 
clear day they are in plain view from Flag RcKk on Warm Springs Mountain, 
almost twenty miles distant. Conversely, a very large portion of Rockbridge 
may be viewed from the summit of Little House Mountain. The view from 
its companion is less satisfactory because of its less favorable position. From 
Lexington the twin heights are so consiiicuous and so imposing that the residents 
regard them with a feeling akin to affection. 

Certain legends are associated with the House Mountains. One of these 
relates to a man named .'shepherd, who lived a while at the high-lying rock which 
ever since has borne his name. He was often noticed poring over a small book 
carried in a leather pouch. At intcr\'als not frequent he came down to Col- 
lier's Creek and paicl for provisions in bright new coins. He was at first 
suspected of being a horse-thief, hut he turned out to be a coimterfeiter of silver 
quarters. .Shepherd found it expedient to go away, but the credulous continued to 
sec lights on Shepherd Rock which would vanish when approached. .Some 
searching has here been done for pots of silver. 

Jump Mountain has a very precipitous face toward the east. It is so 
named because of a legend of a battle between Indians at the mouth of W^llker's 
Crerk. The story relates that an Indian woman watched the conflict from the 
mountain, and when <ihe saw her husband fall she threw her.self over the preci|)ice. 


But she must have possessed telescopic eyes to recognize her mate at a distance 
of at least two miles. As for the alleged battle, it probably rests on no more sub- 
stantial basis than the former existence of the Walker's Creek mound, an ac- 
count of which is given in Chapter VIII. 

Of Crystal Spring in Arnold's Valley, there is the following beautiful 
legend. An Indian warrior loved a maid of a hostile tribe, and gave her a gem 
which his people had brought from beyond tlic Father of Waters. It was trans- 
parent, and she wore it in her necklace of beads. The trysting-place was a 
spring. A jealous lover of her own tribe found her here and snatched away 
the jewel. She caught his hand, recovered the crystal, and threw it behind her 
into the spring, where it dissolved, and gave to the water its purity and its 




THE British Govmnment— The Emigration to America— America and N'ircinia 

IS 1716— Pennsvlvania and the Immigrants — The American 

Highlander — Spottswood — Salling 

In the story of the world's progress, tlic American Republic is a colonial ex- 
tension of Europe. As a white man's country, its history has therefore a 
European background. This background must be studied if the development of 
our country is to be properly understood. 

For the history of the up])er \'alley of N'irginia the European background 
is to be sought in the southwest of Scotland and the north of Ireland; in 
Strathclyde and in Ulster, respectively. In latitude, and in surface, soil, and 
climate, the two regions are much alike. In each there are mountains, usually 
deforested and sometimes gaunt and gloomy, which are similar in height to the 
elevations rising above the floor of the \'alley of Virginia. In each there are 
fine swift streams, comparable in volume to the North River at Lexington, or 
to its tributary, the BufTalo. In each the surface alternates from mountain to 
valley, and from broken ridges to small tracts comparatively level. In each 
the soil is often stony, sometimes excessively so, and in general is not highly 
fertile or easily tilled. The mean annual temiK-rature is fifty degrees, as 
against fifty- four at Lexington. The winter temperature is noticeably milder 
than thai of Rockbridge, but the summer is very much cooler, being scarcely so 
warm as a Rockbridge May. The climate, cool, cloudy, and humid, is suited 
to grass, oats, and root crops, and either region is better adapted to grazing than 
to tillage. A domestic rather than an outdoor life is indicated, while the 
stony and often spongy soil compels habits of industry and thrift. And since 
the aspect of nature is stern rather than smiling, and the sky more often cloudy 
than fair, it need not surprise us that lands have nurtured a sober, thought- 
ful, matter-of-fact, unemolion.Tl race, with a higher appreciation of the obviously 
useful than of the merely beautiful. 

Tlic above de.vription of the countries on the two sides of the North Gian- 
nel suggests a certain measure of resemblance to the Shenandoah X'alley and 
the Appalachian uplands. The rock formations are of the same geologic periods 
and the soils arc similar in texture. The degree of resemblance goes far to ex- 
plain why the immigrant from Ulster has so successfully adapted himself to 
Appalachian Anrerica. The sky proved to be warmer and sunnier, yet the new 


home was not strikingly dissimilar, as was found to be tlie case with the Missis- 
sippi Basin and the plains and mountains beyond. 

The southwest of Scotland was once Strathclyde, a petty kingdom about the 
size of Connecticut. It was at length overrun by the neighboring kingdom of 
Northumbria. and the native Celtic speech gave place to the Saxon. This cir- 
cumstance does not imply that the old population was displaced. The pre- 
valent idea that the people of Scotland and England are predominantly Ger- 
manic is incorrect, and was disproved before the late war had burst upon 
the world. Consequently the experts who have investigated the matter did not 
have this tragedy to bias their conclusions. The population of the British 
Isles is mainly of the elements that held possession in the days of Caesar. The 
invading bands of Anglen, Saxons, and Jutes overran the lowlands on the in- 
stalment plan, and full success did not come for many years. By assimilating 
with the natives they gave the country a new language and new institutions. 
But whether Highlanders or Lowlanders, the Scottish people are essentially one 
with respect to origin. The Lowlands gave up the old speech, while the 
Highlands retained it. And it is worthy of notice that the dialect of English 
spoken in the Lowlands differs little from the everyday speech of the north of 

When Jamestown and Plymouth were being founded, Scotland had about 
one-sixth of its present population, perhaps 200,000 of the number being in 
Strathclyde. But this corner of Scotland has furnished a disproportionate 
share of the great names that occur in Scottish history. Its people of this 
period were tall, lean, hardy, and sinewy. They were ignorant of high living and 
had good nerves and digestion. They were combative, and not easy to get 
along with to those who did not fall in with their ways. They were strong- 
willed and strongly individualistic, and were therefore fierce sticklers for per- 
sonal liberty. By the same token they were more democratic in thought than 
fhe English and were less inclined to commercial pursuits. To challenge this 
Scotsman's views of right and wrong roused him to speedy action. He was either 
quite bad or quite good. In the former respect, he fought, swore, was given 
to gaming and racing, and drank plentifully from his whiskey jug. In the lat- 
ter respect, his morality had a solid groundwork, being based on general educa- 
tion and on regular attendance at his house of worship. Outwardly he was un- 
emotional and not given to displays of affection. Yet there was more sun- 
shine in his life than is commonly believed. 

It had been only a few years since John Knox had caused the Protestant 
Reformation to triumph in Scotland. Nowhere in Europe was this movement 
etTccted more peacefully. In England the Reformation was like an inverted 
pyramid, in that it began with the sovereign and the court party. In Scotland 


it iK-pan with the Cdinmon people, and was in reality a return to the form of 
Christianity first preached in the land. It has been said, and perhaps without 
much cxafjfjeration. that Scotland emerged from barbarism within the span of a 
single geniTation of human life. Knox insisted on a school in every parish. 
And as thrift has been a watchword of Protestantism from the first, the Scotch 
fell into the habit of mending their clothes till they would no longer hold to- 
gether, and of saving every nubbin and potato. From a coarse, rough, unruly 
horde of semi-barbarians, scornful of steady labor, the Scotch became a re- 
ligious, industrious, energetic people, mindful of the main chance, and able to 
hold their own against all comers. Yet the change was slow to make them 
recognize that a cottage looks better for having a flowering vine climbing up 
the gable, or that a house of worship should have a higher degree of architectural 
grace than the "little red scboolhouse" that is not as yet forgotten in .\inerica. 

Scotland united with England on her own terms. Ireland, on the contrary, 
was subdued, and to the impoverishment by absentee landlords was added the 
oppression of harsh laws with respect to religion and industry. Under James 
the I'irst, whose reign Ix^gan in ICiOv^, an unsuccessful rising of the Irish was 
punished by the confiscation of more than 3,000.000 acres of Ulster soil. This 
area had becfime partially depopulated, and the English king made successful 
efl^orts to re-pcoplc it with settlers from the other side of the Irish Sea. Al- 
ready some lawless Highlanders had flocked in, but they were a most undesirable 
element, and preference was now given to the Ix)wlanders. 

When the descendants of these colonists began coming to America, they 
were called Irish for the very practical reason that they came from Ireland. 
Irishmen of the original stock were scarce in the United States l>efore the enor- 
mous immigration caused by the potato famine of 1845. The term Scotch- 
Irish came into use to distinguish the earlier inflow from the later. This term 
is firmly fixed in i)()pular usage, and yet it is rather misleading. It implies that 
the people thus styled arc the descendants of Scotchmen who settled in Ireland. 
This is true only in part. The Scotch of Strathcl)<le were the most numerous 
clement and they gave their impress to the entire mass. But there were nearly 
as many settlers from the north of England, and there were a few from Wales. 
There were also not a few Huguenot refugees from I'rancc. It was the tal- 
ented French Protestants, coming at the instance of William of Orange, who 
introduced the linen industry into Ulster and made it the basis of its manufactur- 
ing prosperity. And finally, some of the native Irish blended with the immigrant 
jMiptilation. It is customary to deny any such fusion, and so far as religion is 
concerned, there was none. The newcomers were Presbyterians, while the 
natives were Catholics. In Ulster these two elemnts have never ceased to dislike 
one another. Yet the rather frecjuent occurrence of native Irish names among 


the emigrants from Ulster has a very obvious significance. It shows that here 
and there the native accepted the Protestant faith, and that neither social nor 
religious barriers then remained. It is not a characteristic of the Ulster people to 
turn a cold shoulder toward those who agree with them. J. W. Dinsmore 
observes that the Ulsterman "has the steadfastness of the Scot, the rugged 
strength and aggressive force of the Saxon, and a dash of the vivacity and 
genius of the Huguenot." He might have added that when the Ulsterman came 
to America he spoke the Elizabethan type of English, which the Irish adopted 
as an incident in their conquest. 

It is now necessary to speak of the relations between the Ulstermen and 
the British government. There was a Church of Ireland, identical except in 
name with the Church of England. Though it had few adherents, the law 
was behind it, and it laid a heavy hand on Dissenters as well as Catholics. The 
Presbyterian minister was expected to preach only within certain specified 
limits, and was liable to be fined, deported, or imprisoned. He could not 
legally unite a couple in marriage, and at times he could preach only by night 
and in some barn. The infamous "Black Oath" of 1639 required all the 
Protestants of Ulster who were above the age of sixteen to bind themselves 
to an implicit obedience to all royal commands whatsoever. This display of 
autocratic tyranny led multitudes of men and women to hide in the woods 
or to flee to Scotland. 

In 1689 the Irish rose in behalf of the deposed king of England, James 
the Second. Protestants were shot down at their homes. Women were tied 
to stakes at low tide, so that they might drown when the ocean waves came 
back. Londonderry was besieged by a large army, but was defended with a 
desperation unsurpassed in history. Without help from the English, without 
trained officers, without sufficient food or ammunition, and in the face of 
deadly fever, the invaders were beaten off with great loss. This staunch sup- 
port of the new king would seem to have entitled the Ulstermen to much 
consideration. Nevertheless, the British Parliament enforced its anti-popery 
laws against the Presbyterians as well as the Catholics. The time had not yet 
come when a Presbyterian might sell religious books, teach anything above a 
primary school, or hold civil or military office. There was no general redress 
of grievances until 1782. 

The persecution was industrial as well as religious. English laws dis- 
criminated against Ulster manufactures, particularly the manufacture of woolen 
goods. This flourishing business was ruined by a law of 1698. 

In view of such a hounding persecution, it might seem strange tliat the 
people of Ulster could retain a shred of respect for their government. Yet. 
as citizens of tiie British Isles, they professed loyalty to the crown, whicii 



by a figure of speech signified the state in its sovereign capacity. They appear 
to have had no ill feeling toward the king himself. He did them no harm, be- 
cause he did nothing at all in a governmental sense. From 1704 to 1760 the 
English monarch was a figurehead in almost the fullest sense i>f the term. The 
resentment of the Ulster people was directed against the corrupt clique that 
governed in the king's name. However, there was a ruling English party in 
Ulster. At the present time, Episcopalians are more numerous than Pres- 
byterians, in at least two of the seven counties, and the Catholic population 
is eijual to the Protestant. It is a mistake to think of Presbyterians as out- 
numbering other denominations in Ulster. 

The straw that broke the camel's back for the Ulster people was the display 
of greed shown about 1723. A large quantity of land given to favored indivi- 
duals was offered only on 31-ycar leases and at two to three times the former 
rental. An emigration to America, which really began about 1718, now assumed 
large dimensions. During the next half century, or until interrupted by the 
war for American independence, the aggregate outflow is reckoned by some au- 
thorities as high as 300,000. Ulster was thus drained of the larger and best part 
of its population. The fundamental reasons for the exodus are thus stated in a 
sermon delivered on the eve of the sailing of a ship : "To avoid oppression 
and cruel Iwndage ; to shun persecution and designed ruin ; to withdraw from 
the communion of idolators; to have opportunity to worship God according to 
the dictates of conscience and the rules of his Word." 

Throughout this period of heavy emigration from Ulster there was almost 
as large a tide of Germans from the valley of the upper RJiinc, inclusive of 
Switzerland. But until near the outbreak of the Revolution, the German settlers 
in Rockbridge were very few. Si> it is scarcely necessary, at present, to speak 
further on this parallel stream of inmiigration. 

It is next in order to sketch the America of 1716, so as to observe the 
efTect of the inflow from Ulster and the Rhine. 

There were at this time twelve of the English colonies, and their 400,000 
inhabitants were scattered thinly along the coast from Casco Bay in Maine to 
Port Royal in South Carolina. Exceedingly few were the people who were 
located so far inland as a hundred miles. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, 
and Charleston were the largest towns, and not one of them had a pnpul.ition of 
10.000. The colonies must have presente<l a very new appearance, but not 
of a truly pioneer type. The homes of all but the poorest people were as good 
as the Ixrtter class of homes in Euroi)e. There was a lively commerce with the Isles and with the West Indies, the products of the farms, the forests. 
an<I the fisheries In-ing exchanged for man\ifactured goods niul for sugar 
and other tropical supplies. There were hut three colleges. Elementary rduca- 


tion was general only in New England. Elsewhere, education was regarded 
as a private interest, and there was much illiteracy. There was no mail service 
worthy of the name, no daily newspaper, and perhaps not more than a half 
dozen weeklies. Religion was free only in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. 
Elsewhere there was an established church supported by general taxation. The 
colonials of 1716 were overwhelmingly of English origin, but there was a 
sprinkling of Scotch. \\'elsh, Irish, Hollanders, and French Huguenots. Each 
colony was an independent country with respect to its neighbors. And as roads 
were bad and bridges few, traveling was slow and difficult. All knowledge of 
the outside world was elementary. There was no intercourse with Asia or 
South America, Africa was visited only in the interest of the slave trade, and 
Australia was unknown. Every sea was infested with pirate vessels. 

Turning to Virginia we find that its 100,000 people, of whom one-fourth 
were negro slaves, lived almost exclusively to the east of a line drawn through 
Washington and Richmond. Williamsburg, the capital, was merely a village. 
Norfolk was doubtless smaller than Lexington is now. \'irginia was strictly 
an agricultural region, and the growing of tobacco was by far the dominant in- 
terest. The structure of society was not democratic. At the head of the scale 
was the tidewater aristocracy, feudalistic and reactionary, polite to women, pro- 
fane among its own kind, fond of horses and sports, and indifferent to books. 
These people constituted the one and only ruling class, and the public business 
thrown upon them induced a good degree of practical intelligence. Below them 
were the professional men, tradesmen, small farmers, and white servants, some 
of the latter having come to America as convicts. 

Such in outline was the America of 1716. Most of its people were American- 
born and were beginning to look upon themselves as distinct from the British. 
Nearly all of the new immigration landed at Philadelphia, because the colony 
of which it was the metropolis was held in high repute across the Atlantic for 
the liberality of its government. In 1769 the French traveler Cluny declared 
of Pennsylvania that "its form of civil government is better calculated to pro- 
mote private happiness and consequently public prosperity than any other with 
which we are acquainted under the sun." But the immigrants found a difference 
between its theory and its practice. It is instinctive in the human species to 
look with suspicion or dislike on those whose ways are ditlerent from our 
own. The comfortable Quakers did not like the idea of being swamped by 
this deluge of strange people, one portion of whom spoke an unfamiliar language, 
while the other portion appeared assertive, somewhat uncoutii. and not overly 
particular in costume or personal cleanliness. There was scant welcome for the 
newcomers in the small settled district, and so they pushed inland, the Germans 
moving rather to the right and tiie Ulstermen to the left. Had tiie Quakers 


been more inclined to observe the spirit of their institutions, they would have 
retained most of this immigration and the settlement of the N'alley of N'irginia 
would have been much delayed. The Ulstcrmen were very much inclined to 
keep together. It was usual for a wliolc congregation, headed by its pastor, 
to leave Ireland in a body and to seek to settle as neiglibors after coming to 
America. Hut a tax was laid on the immigrants, they were kept as long as 
possible fron) having any efTcctive voice in the colonial govenmient, and when 
the war of 1754 broke out, there was a failure to protect the frontier. Thus 
we arc the better able to understand why some of the Ulster people lived a 
while in Pennsylvania instead of coming directly to \*irginia. The liberality of 
Pennsylvania was largely outweighed by its narrowness, and so the Ulstcrmen 
pushed southward as well as westward, gradually occupying all Appalachian 
America from the Iroquois country south of I^ke Ontario to the Gierokee 
countr)' on the waters of the upper Tennessee. In this way the inland frontier 
of America was pushed rapidly forward. Otherwise the year 1776 might have 
found in \'irginia but a handful of people west of the Blue Ridge. 

In the way we have pointed out, the Ulstermen became a frontier people 
as soon as they were settled in America. They were well fitted to become such. 
They were ovcrcomers by nature and did not shrink from facing <lifficullics. 
They wanted room and plenty of it, and they wished to bury on their own soil 
instead of on the domain of some detested landlord. 

The Ulstermen were joined by some of the Germans, and by some of the 
more venturesome spirits among the English and Hollanders of the coast set- 
tlements, both northern and southern. The pioneer population of the Alle- 
ghany valleys thus developed into a composite stock, that of the American High- 
lander. This homogeneity moved more rapidly in a blending of customs 
in a mixture of blood. But it was the Scotch-Irish who gave a dominant im- 
press to the entire frontier. 

Before taking up the settlement of Rockbridge, it is necessary to tell of the 
discovery and exploration of "New \'irginia," this term being applied to that 
part of the Old Dominion wliich attracted the Ulster people. 

For more than a century after the founding of Jamestown there was no 
clear knowledge of what lay beyond the Blue Ridge. .An exploring party had 
indeed penetrated as far as the fails of New River as early as 1671, but this 
spurt of enterprise was not followed up. In a letter to the Board of Trade in 
1710, Governor Spottswood remarks that some adventurous men had just clinil)ed 
the Blue Ridge, hitherto deemed impassable, and would iiavc proceeded down 
the west slope hut for the lateness of the season. 

The governor In-came interested. He thought the distance to the Great 
I^kcs much less than it really is, and he believed it sound policy to keep the 


French from getting the fur trade entirely into their hands. He therefore 
recommended that trading stations be estabUshed on the lakes, and that they 
be connected with the Virginia coast by a chain of fortified posts. To look into 
this matter in person, he headed an exploring party that left Williamsburg 
in the summer of 1716, and spent thirty-six days in reaching the summit of the 
Blue Ridge, probably at Swift Run Gap. The South Fork of the Shenandoah 
was forded in the vicinity of Elkton, and the next day — September 6th — the 
gay cavaliers who comprised most of the fifty men held a grand revel on the 
dozen varieties of liquor they had brought with them. After each toast there 
was a volley of powder and ball. Spottswood made no attempt to prosecute the 
exploration, and contented himself with viewing the Alleghany ridges from a dis- 
tance. We hear nothing more of his zeal in the fur trade. The behavior of the 
whole party was that of a crowd of young bloods bent on a jollification in the 

Nevertheless, an important result came of this expedition. Now that 
glimpses by rangers or hunters had been supplemented by a visit from the gov- 
ernor and a delegation of the tidewater aristocracy, it could be announced that 
the Valley of Virginia was officially discovered. It had been assumed that it 
was a forbidding land. On the contrary it was found to be pleasant and fertile, 
and abounding in game and fish. There were no Indian occupants, although 
a grassy prairie covered the lowlands between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghanies 
beyond It was a vision to appeal to the land speculator, and it did not appeal 
in vain. 

It was sixteen years before John Lewis came with his advance guard of 
Ulster people into the presents limits of Virginia. But although exact informa- 
tion is provokingly scarce, it is very clear that during this interval land prospect- 
ors were busy in spying out the country and naming the mountains and streams. 
It was only eleven years after Spottswood's visit that a company of tidewater 
promoters petitioned for 50,000 acres on the headwaters of the James, almost 
before there was a solitary cabin in the Shenandoah Valley itself. 

During the period of exploration, the one and only conspicuous name among 
the known landhunters, so far as the Rockbridge area is concerned, is tiiat of 
John Peter Sailing. According to the usual version of the story, Sailing went up 
the Valley from the Potomac in 1726, in company with John Marlin, a pedler 
or trapper. On the Roanoke they were attacked by Indians and Sailing was cap- 
tured. He was taken from his Cherokee captors by some Illinois Indians and 
wandered with them to Kaskaskia, where he was adopted by a squaw. Several 
times he went down the Mississippi with the red men, and at length the Spaniards 
bought him to use as an interpreter. From New Orleans he in some way was 
taken to Canada, where he was redeemed by the governor of that province, and 

20 A HISTORY OF rockukiik:e cx)UN-n". Virginia 

sent by him to tlie Hollanders of New York. After six years of varied cx- 
|)eriences he arrived at Williamsburg. The traditions in the Sailing family agree 
in staling that the pioneer ancestor was several years a captive among the Indians, 
by whom he was taken to the lower Mississippi. According to Henry Ruffner, 
who wrote in 1844, Martin met Sailing in Williamsburg and so interested the 
latter by his description of the \'allcy that l)Oth men wint up the James as far 
as the beautiful Iwituin immediately above Balcony I'alls. Sailing was so well 
pleased that he did not wish to look further. He returned to the capital, patented 
a choice |Mjriion of the b<ittoin. and settled on it with his bachelor brother. 
Sailing's home was so well known as to Ix- marked on a map of 1755. 

It was in the summer of 1732 that John Lewis came with his family and 
built a house a mile l>elow where Staunton now stands. So far as known he was 
the first settler in Augusta county. According to Ruffner and others, I-ewis 
visited Williamsburg before making any settlement, and there met Sailing, 
whose roseate description of the "back country" led him to chi>ose land on I^wis 
Creek. But it is known that Lewis fled from Ireland as a refugee froni British 
law. He Ttas at length pardoned, but until this took place he would not have 
exposed himself to arrest. He is known to have spent a few years in Pennsyl- 
vania before coming to X'irginia. and it is possible that the pardon was as early 
as 1732. But he did not aojuire title to his land until 1738. 



The McDowells— Benjamin Borden, Sr.— The Virginia Land System— Settlement of 

THE Borden Tract— Benjamin Borden, Jr.— Disputes with 

THE Settlers — Joseph Borden 

Early in September, 1737, a little party of honieseekers were in camp on 
Linville Creek in wiiat is now Rockingham county. They were journeying by 
the trail that was sometimes called the Indian Road, and sometimes the Pennsyl- 
vania Road. In the company were Ephraim McDowell, a man now past the 
meridian of life, his son John, and a son-in-law, James Greenlee. The younger 
men were accompanied by their families. It is rather probable that a few other 
persons were in the party, especially one or more indentured servants. The 
destination they had in view was South River. James, another son of Ephraim, 
had come in advance and planted a little field of corn in that valley opposite 
Woods Gap. 

The McDowells had come from Ulster in "the good ship, George and Ann," 
landing at Philadelphia, September 4, 1729, after being on the Atlantic 118 days. 
This was a slow voyage, even in those days of sailing vessels, and yet it was 
not unusual. As in many other instances among the Ulster people, Pennsylvania 
was only a temporary home. The country west and southwest of the metropolis, 
as far as the Susquehanna and the Maryland line, was now well-peopled, ac- 
cording to the standard of that agricultural age. Land was relatively high in 
price, and so the newcomers, if they had to move inland to the advance line of 
settlement ,often thought they might as well look for homes in "New Virginia." 
John Lewis, a kinsman to the McDowells, had founded in 1732 the nucleus 
of the Augusta settlement, and by this time several hundred of the Ulster people 
had located around him. Religion was not free in Virginia, hut it was doubtless 
the belief of the newcomers that the planters of Tidewater, who were the rulers 
of the colony, would not deem it wise to molest them in their adherence to the 
Presbyterian faith. 

To afford the reader some idea of what Pennsylvania was in 1729, we give 
a synopsis of a letter written about that time by a young man to his sister in 

The writer pronounces Pennsylvania the best country in tiie world for 
tradesmen and working people. Land was twenty-five cents to $2.50 an acre, 
according to quality and location, and was rapidly advancing because of the large 
and varied immigration. His father, after a long and cautious search, made a 


choice almut thirty niilcs from Pliiladclphia. For 500 acres of prime land, 
inclusive of a small log house, a clearing of twenty acres, and a young orchard, 
the purchase price was $875.00. In the meantime tlic father had rented a 
place and put 200 acres in wheat, a crop that commanded fifty cents a bushel. 
Oats were twenty-eight cents a bushel, and com was twenty-five cents. The 
lalKiring man had about twenty cents a day in winter. In harvest time he was 
paid thirty cents a day, this service including the best of food and a pint of 
rum. At the end of his swath he would find awaiting him some meat, either 
boiled or roasted, and some cakes and tarts. One to two acres could be plowed in 
a day, which was twice the speed that could be made in Ireland. A Ixjy of 
thirteen years could hold the implenient, which had a wooden mouldhoard. 
Horses were smaller than in Ireland, but pacing animals could cover fifteen 
miles in an hour's time. At Philadelphia, then a little city of perhaps 5,000 
inhabitants, all kinds of provisions were extraordinarily plentiful. Wednesdays 
and Saturdays were market days. Meat of any kind could be had for two and 
one-half cents a pound. Nearly every farmhouse had an orchard of apple, 
peach, and cherry trees. Wheat yielded twenty bushels to the acre and turnips 
200. The writer corrects several false reports about the colony which had been 
carried to the other side of the ocean. He said there had as yet been no sickness 
in the family, and that not a member of it was willing to live in Ireland again. 
The cost of passage to the mother country was $22.50. 

There must have been some regret among the Ulster people that it was not 
easy to secure a foothold in such a thriving district as the Philadelphia region. 
But .^merica was a land of opportunity, whether on the coast or in the interior. 

It was just after the McDowells had established their camp on Linvillc 
Creek that an incident occurred which led to some change in destination. A man 
giving his name as Hcnjamin Horden* came along and arranged to spend the 
night with them. He told them he had a grant of 100,000 acres on the waters 
of the James, if he could ever find it. To the man who could show him the 
boun<laries he wouhl give 1,000 acres. John McDowell replied that he was a 
surveyor and would accept the offer. A torch was lighted, McDowell showed 
his surveying instruments, and Borden his papers. Each party was satisfied with 
the representations made by the other. At the house of John I^wis, where they 
remained a few days, a more fornwl contract was entered into, the phraseology 
of which indicates that it was written hv I!or<len. The document reads as follows: 

*Thc name i> tomrtimc*. but erroneously, written Burden. Thit >|>clliii([ doubtlcsi 
indic4lr> a vrry uiual pronuncJAlion in llir pioneer (leriod. Hut in their signatures, the 
mcnilicri o( the family UMrd the tpclhnK Uurden. 


Sept. ye 19th 1737 
This day John McDowell of Orange County in Virginia have agreed with Benjamin 
Borden of the same place that he the said McDowell would go now with his family and his 
father and his Brothers and make four Settlements in the said Bordens land which was 
{jran'ed to the said Borden on this side of the blue ridge in the fork of said River, and said 
McDowell has also agreed with the said Borden that he the sd McDowell would cut a good 
Road for Horses loaded with common Luggage and blaze the Trees all the way plain, and 
also the said McDowell has agreed with the said Bcnjamm Borden that he the said M( - 
Dowel! would go with the sd Borden and take accoi;!it of the Settlement of Borden Lind 
on the River at the place called the Chimbly Stone and on Smith Creek ;nd be evidence f^r 
the said Borden of all his settlements aforesaid, uid in consuleration oi the premises the 
said Borden is to give one thousand acres of Land when he the said McDowell build in the 
sd fork of the sd River and the sd Borden is to give the said McDowell good law full Deed 
as the said Borden can get of the King clear of all charges excepting the quitrents & also 
the said Borden do here agree to give to these the other three Settlements six hundred acres 
of Land clear of all charges as before excepted and the said McDowell is to go down with 
a compt (count) of all the Settlements as aforesaid with Borden to his House by the tenth 
day of October next to go with said Borden to Colo Willis to price the Settlements as afore- 
said as witness my hand 

Benjamin Borden 

The lands at the Chimney Stone and on Smith Creek lay in the lower 
Shenandoah Valley. 

Accompanied by John McDowell, Borden went on from Lewis's and camped 
at a spring where Midway now is. Froin this point the men followed the outlet 
of the spring to South River, and continued to the mouth of that streain, re- 
turning by a course. Borden could now see that he was within the boundaries 
of his grant. John McDowell built a cabin on the farm occupied by Andrew 
Scott in 1806. This was the first white man's settlement in the Borden Tract. 
The McDowells had never heard of this grant, and it had been their intention to 
locate in Beverly Manor. 

All Virginia west of the Blue Ridge was until the establishment of Augusta 
and Frederick in 1738 a part of Orange county, and the seat of local government 
was near the present town of Orange. But so far as treaty engagements had any 
force, the Borden Tract lay in the Indian country. It was not until 1744 that 
the treaty of Albany was superseded by that of Lancaster. The former recog- 
nized the Blue Ridge as the border of the Indian domain. The latter moved the 
boundary back to the Indian Road, already mentioned. The red men were 
within their rights when they hunted in the Valley, or passed through on war 
expeditions. In point of fact the whites were trespassers. But the American 
borderer has seldom stood back from this form of trespass whenever he was in 
contact with desirable wild land. 

Borden remained about two years on his grant, spending a portion of the 
time with a Mrs. Hunter, whose daughter married a Green, and to whom Borden 


gave the place they were living on when he left. There is a statement that 
Borden sailed to England and brought back a large company of settlers. This 
is ' ' ' il. Such action was not i He did advertise his lands. 

ail' net that n>orc than 100 f;i catcd on the Tract within the 

two years. But immigrants were arriving at Philadelphia almost everj* week. 
s< • ' r of hundreds, and efficient advertising was certain to 

br;:., : ;,..;.-. When Borden went back to his home near Winches- 

ter, he left his papers with John McDowell, to whose house many of the pros- 
pectors came in order to be shown the parcels they thought of buying. Three 
years later he died on the manor-place he had patented in 1734. 

Benjamin Borden. Sr.. came from New Jersey, where the name Bordcn- 
town commemorates an early settlement by the family. It is manifest that his 
education was meager. The language of his will, which rescinhlcs that of the 
contract given in this chapter, is boyish and crude, and defective in spelling and 
grammar The personalty inventoried in the settlement of his estate made a 
total of $487. The house furnishings were simple and primitive, many of them 
being listed as "old" and of little value. The items include a ser\ant man. two 
stallions and seventeen other horses, seventeen cattle, seven sheep, three small 
hogs, a silver watch scheduled at $10.42. a half-dozen chairs, and some car7>enter 
tools. In ready means Borden did not quite rank with some of the other early 
settlers of Frederick. But as a business man he was shrewd, alert, and tactful, 
and was what would now be styled a "plunger." Besides "Borden's Great 
Tract," and several much smaller patents in the valley of the James, he owm<l 
land in New Jersey and in several localities in the Shenandoah. On his himu- 
stead was a mill. It is said that he came to the frontier as a trader, and he 
ui' . ■ ■ ■ . I ti,i„g when he saw it. His prominence amon^ the 

pi' : i'Cted in the fact that he was a justice of Orange and 

afterward of Frederick. William Edmondson relates that "old Mr. Borden 
was cunning and polite," and that he had heard older men laugh in telling of 
Borden's fertility of resource in meeting all objections. Where the timber was 
scanty, he was able to see "a fine young growth." Where the soil was pxjr, he 
"grandly observed fine sheep walks." 

tlian fift. ■ vlien he dud. 

Ill ^ ;;, the la^-: .^ a small boy 

at that time. His daughters were Flannah, Martha, Abigail, Rebecca, Deborah, 
Lydia. ami ' M.ndy married. Hannah to F.dward Rogers, 

M-'iri' 1 f" ..„..:; to Jacob Worthington, and Rebecca to a 

I5i \bitrail subsequently married James Pritchard. After their father's 
di ' .1 Henry, and KlizalK-th a Xicliotas. I.ydia married 

J.' irom Germany in 1745, and lived until 1797. to figure 


prominently in the Borden litigation. The will left to Abigail, Rebecca, Deborrah, 
Lvdia. and Elizabeth, "5,000 acres that is all good," out of the grreat tract on 
the James. The rest of his lands, excepting the homestead, which was willed 
to the sons, and in dower to Zeruiah, the widow, he ordered to be sold, and the 
proceeds divided equally between the widow, the sons, and six of the daughters. 
To Hannah, the remaining daughter, was given 800 acres of the homestead. The 
executors were the widow, Benjamin, Jr., and William Fernley, whose bond, 
with A\'illiam Russell and John Hardin as sureties, was in the sum of 500 pounds. 
In 1745 the widow gave Benjamin, Jr., a power of attorney with respect to 
sales in the Great Tract, and the following year the latter came into exclusive 
control of it. The other sons conveyed their interest to Russell. 

According to one writer, the elder Borden was an agent for Lord Fairfax in 
settling the Northern Neck. This is very possible. But the statement by Henry 
RuflFner that he was a son-in-law to Colonel James Patton is incorrect. 

We are somewhat in the dark as to his prestige in securing so large a grant 
as the one in Rockbridge. He visited the colonial capital shortly before he met 
the ilcDowells. It is affirmed, and probably with truth, that he ingratiated him- 
self with the governor. That official, his son-in-law, and two other men were 
interested in getting into their personal control some of the land on the upper 
James. Mrs. Greenlee, sister to John McDowell, says these men assigned their 
interest to him in the course of a frolic, which of course had its inspiration in 
liquor. The younger Borden, during his administration of the estate, told 
Samuel McDowell, the son of John, that the estate was much in debt, especially 
to one Lauderdale, who seems to have been one of the original grantees. Mrs. 
Greenlee further relates that one Hardin, who may have been the same as the 
bondsman to the executors of the will of the elder Borden, offered James Mc- 
Dowell the unsold lands in return for a bottle of wine, provided McDowell would 
assume the liability for the payment of quit-rent. But Ephraim McDowell 
counseled against any such transaction, telling his son it might get him into 

A silly story has been repeated time after time to the effect that Borden 
and Lewis visited the capital with a buffalo calf and presented it to Governor 
Gooch, causing that dignitary to be so tickled as to sign away the title to 100,000 
acres of the public domain. The buffalo never roamed in the Tidewater, yet was 
plentiful in the Indian meadows of the Valley, and was necessarily known to the 
governor. Gooch, who was one of the best of the colonial executives, was too 
sensible a man to be carried off his feet by the present of a shaggy, ungainly, 
and ungrown beast. As for Borden, he was not the man to lead the calf all the 
way to Williamsburg, without feeling some assurance that the childish proceed- 
ing would be worth his while. A colonial land-grant, like the one made in favor 


of Borden, was on stipulated conditions and with the concurrence (jf the 
Colonial Council. 

It is now in place to tell how and for what announced purpnse sucli a large 
grant came to be made to a private person who was without aristocratic birth or 

The immigrant to colonial X'irgiiiia. provided he was of age and could prove 
he had paid the cost of his passage from Europe, could claim a "head-right," 
entitling him to fifty acres of public land. He was further entitled to fifty acres 
for each male member of his household. He was required to settle on the land, 
to improve at least six per cent of the acreage, and to pay each year a quit- 
rent of one shilling for each fifty acres. On taking up a head-right, he paid a 
fee of five shillings. The tendency of this law was to fill Virginia with a sub- 
stantial class of citizens. The working of it was much the same as that of the 
present homestead law of the Federal government. 

But the governor, with the concurrence of the Council, could grant a huge 
block of land to an individual, or a group of men acting as a company. The 
theory of the order of council was to settle within a stated time a mininnim num- 
ber of families on the tract. The grantee was supposed to be restrained from 
charging more than a specified \n\cQ i)cr acre. He issued deeds, just as though 
the block was owned by himself in fee-simple. In practice, there was created 
a proprietorship, usually non-resident, which enabled men influential with the 
ct)lonial government to levy a burdensome ta.x on the settler without rendering 
in return a corresponding benefit. Much of the public domain was thus cor- 
nered by these influential men. The settler had to pay their price or go on to 
the very verge of settlement. Many a person did so, and the frontier was pushed 
forward too rapidly for comfort or safety. Furthermore, the government is said 
to have been very lenient in enforcing forfeiture where there was a failure 
to comply with the conditions attached to the grant. The order of council method 
was monopolistic in its very nature. The headright metho<l was e(|uitable. and it 
assumed, which was ordinarily the truth, that the homesecker was capable of 
choosing land for himself. 

In the case of Borden, there was a penal bond in the sum of ISOO pnimds 
($6,000). The grantee was to .sell the lands at the rate of threepence (ten cents) 
per acre. Sometimes, indeed, he gave title for a smaller sum. But the rate 
exacted was sometimes much larger, as will appear from a study of Section III. 
A petition to the Assembly, dated 1786, would seem to voice the prevalent 
opinion in Rockbridge. The petitioners believe the survey to contain a good 
deal of surplus land. In reserving some of the most valuable tracts, the Bordens 
"accumulated a large fortune." A considerable i>ortion was still unsold at 
the date of the petition, and like unappropriated land, was in great part free 



from tax. This was offered for sale at the highest price that could be secured. 
"Your petitioners have ever considerd this monopoly hard and oppressive, even 
under a nionarchial government, where the natural rights of man are so much 
abused," They ask that the representatives of the proprietor be compelled to 
account for all arrears of taxes, and that the lands be disposed of at a reason- 
able price ; and that the grant be resurveyed so that the title to the surplus lands 
may be vested in the commonwealth. 

The patent to Borden was not issued until November 6, 1739. It is based 
on the representation that a family had been located for every 1,000 acres of the 
grant. The acreage is set at 92,100, and this would indicate that the number of 
actual settlements was ninety-one, exclusive of those by the McDowell party. 
In consideration of building a cabin, the settler was given 100 acres, and had the 
privilege of buying additional land at the minimum price. Such parcel of 100 
acres was called a cabin-right. These cabin-rights were of vital importance to 
Borden. Each one validated his own title to 1,000 acres of his grant. Mrs. 
Greenlee relates that the cabin-rights were at length counted and a return made 
to the governor. Benjamin Borden, Jr.. affirmed that the number was 145. 
But Mrs. Greenlee says one person would go from cabin to cabin, and claim 
a cabin-right in each instance. It was immaterial where these claim-cabins were 
built. Mrs. Greenlee adds that she heard much of the doings of a young Mil- 
hollen woman, a servant to James Bell. She dressed as a man and saved five or 
six cabin-rights. She used a different Christian name at each cabin she appeared 
at. John Patterson, who made the count and kept tally with chalk-marks on his 
hat, was surprised to find so many Milhollens. Mrs. Greenlee does not commit 
herself as to whether she believed this sharp practice to have been instigated 
by the elder Borden. The junior Borden, in his answer in the suit of Bell v. 
Borden, denies that his father sought any advantage from fraudulent improve- 
ment. He says he believes it to be true that Bell "caused a servant wench of his 
to be dressed up in man's apparel or clothes, and show himself on one of the 
improvements he pretends to have made," and that at another time. Bell "caused 
the wife of William McCanliss, his servant man, to appear in his own proper 
person on a different part of the land, as the wife of another settler." 

The surveying of the boundaries of the Tract was not done until after the 
counting of the cabin-rights. This circumstance will account for the extraor- 
dinarily irregular outline. More than sixty angles are described in the patent. 
The general survey was performed by James Wood, surveyor of Frederick 
county, assisted by John McDowell. McDowell seems to have surveyed some, 
at least, of the individual tracts, yet Mrs. Greenlee says one Bcaty appears to have 
been the first man to survey land in the Borden Tract. One John Mart was also 
a surveyor. Separate parcels, however, were not always surveyed before pur- 


chase, but were dcscril)cd by general boundaries. James Buchanan says liis 
father's land was paid for before survey, although certain boundaries were 
agreed upon. The younger Hordcn did not observe these bounds, although 
referees decided in his favor. Mrs. Greenlee says people sonietinies squatted in 
the grant, and witiiout first contracting with "old Borden." William Patton 
says that parcels passed from hand to hand prior to the making of any deed. 
This circumstance helps to explain why the names of some of the settlers do not 
appear in the deeds issued by the Bordens. 

The death of Benjamin Borden, Sr., left the proprietary interests in the 
Tract in much confusion. Many bargains with the newcomers had been reached, 
but in rather numerous instances the settler was living on land to which his 
claim was incomplete. Judge McDowell very justly remarks that the business 
of the estate was intricate and very troublesome. The elder Borden had either 
sold or given away many tracts that there was no account of among his papers 
Disputes arose and some of the contestants made good their claims. The quit- 
rents coming due everj- year on the unsold portion of the Tract were a burden 
to the younger man. One deponent says a parcel was sometimes sold off merely 
to get the money for this purpose. It was the pr.ictice of the Bordens to sign 
no deeds until the purchase money had been paid in full. For some cause, the 
land purchased by Ezekiel Clements in 1746 reverted to the Crown seven years 

In 1742 Benj.imin Borden. Jr.. visited the Tmct. spending his time at the 
home of John McDowell. When he came back, the year following, his father 
and John McDowell were Ixiih dead. The junior Borden was a young man 
and was at first viewed with coldness and suspicion. There seemed to be 
nothing in his bearing to set him above the generality of the settlers them- 
selves. It was said that he was illiterate, but this could hardly have been llie 
case. He was not at first held in respect by Mrs. McDowell, whom he married 
al>out 1744. f)n his reappe.irance he entere<l upon the management of his in- 
heritance. He lived at Thorn Hill, afterward the Bowyer estate, which lies on 
Woods Creek two miles southwest of Lexington. That his home just 
outside the Tract is explainable on the sup|)osition — which is almost a certainty — 
that his wife, whose maiden name was Magdalena Woo<ls. was a sister to Richard 
Woods, who settled in this beautiful valley in 17.W. Here in April, 1753, the 
younger Borden died of smallpox. The disease was epidemic that spring, and 
Borden was tlie first person at his own home to contract it. His three daughters, 
his brother Joseph, the children of John McDowell, and several negroes also 
fell ill, and one or two of his children died. Martha Borden, then a girl of alxiut 
«i ' • '-. had a slow and tedious convalescence. .Mxuit 1770 she married 

]<■ irvey. Mrs. Greenlee, who was pnib.ibK' inimiiiu'. nmscil ilu- patients 

at the Borden home. 



The appraisement of the junior Borden's personality makes the following 
exhibit, the values being given both in Federal currency and in the colonial 
money of Virginia. 

Roger (slave) 40p $133.33 

Mill (slave) 30p 100.00 

Other slaves — value not given 

13 horses 63p 10s 211.67 

26 sheep 6p 10s 21.67 

One yoke of o.\en : 6p 20.00 

8 milch cows 13p 43.33 

3 calves Ip 4s 4.00 

32 hogs 6p 20.00 

Nails Ip lis 5.17 

Case of pistols and holsters Ip 3.33 

Still and vessels 23p 76.67 

Implements, traps, smith's tools 14p 3s 6d 47.25 

Wagon gears lOp 33.33 

3 linen sheets Ip 16s 6.00 

Large table 8s 1.33 

One dozen chairs Ip 8s 4.67 

Bed and furniture 2p lOs 8.33 

Silver watch 4p 13.33 

3 wigs Ip 10s 5.00 

Books 3p 6s 6d 11.08 

128 pounds steel, 77 of iron 4p 19s 8d 16.58 

Total, 235 pounds, 16 shillings, 8 pence; equivalent to $786.11. 

During the ten years he lived in the Tract, Benjamin, Jr., rose in the esti- 
mation of the settlers. In 1746 he became a captain of the militia, and in 1752 
he qualified as a justice of the county court. He was somewhat frequently 
called upon to perform public business. Mrs. Greenlee says he appeared to be a 
good man and disposed to do justice to the settlers. His stepson, Samuel Mc- 
Dowell, says he was honest and upright, generally well spoken of, and gave 
satisfaction in his management of the estate. Such testimony is very strong, 
and yet there are statements that seem to conflict with those given by the stepson 
and his aunt. In 1748, the younger Borden was convicted by the Augusta court 
for giving false receipts for the payment of quit-rents. Three years later, Martha, 
the wife of James Dunlap, was fined for saying she would not believe him on 
oath. John Patterson, in making his will in 1749, claims seventy pounds as due 
him from Borden, and instructs James Patton to see that Borden does not wTong 
his wife and children. Borden's sister Deborah deposed in 1700 that her brother 
had treated Mrs. \\'orthington with much cruelty in word and manner. From 
the tenor of the declarations in a number of chancery suits, one is driven to 
conclude either that the plaintiffs were trying to "do" Borden, or that the latter 


was evasive and dishonest in his dealings with them. We eannot liglitly Ixrlicve 
that all the complainants could have been tricky and untruthful. 

The suit of Downing v. Borden is a quite tj'pical specimen of the litigation 
that ardsc after the death of the elder Borden. John Downing sets forth that 
John Patterson was a duly authorized agent to act for Benjamin Borden. Sr. ; 
that through the said Patterson he purchased 300 acres on Galway Creek ; that 
one-half the purchase money was to be paid as soon as Borden should execute 
a good deed, and one-half at the end of twelve months. The elder Borden 
having clicd before title had passed. Downing asked the son to make out a deed, 
complaining at the same time that his neighbor. George MofTctt, had a mind 
to come over the creek running through the land. Benjamin. Jr., replied that 
MofTctt .'ihould not come over, that Downing was in control and should go ahead 
with the improvement of his land. Downing says he has made considerable 
improvement, and has offered to pay the purchase money, but that Borden insists 
there was no bona fide purchase; that Patterson was without authority, unless 
in case of a lease-right ; that the agreement between Patterson and Downing 
was oral only, and that the proprietor is under no obligation to convey. 

In the suit of Young v. Borden, Robert Young says Robert Crockett 
Iwrgaincd with the elder Borden and paid one pistole* to bind the contr.act; that 
he himself, to whom Crockett had assigned his right, has paid in $10.82, yet 
without being able to get a deed. In 1750 Young petitioned that Borden should 
not acknowledge title to any of the land without his consent. The petition was 
al'owed. In Patterson v. Borden. James P.ittcrson says that the senior Borden 
made a verbal agreement with John Patterson, whereby the latter was to act as 
agent ; that when Borden visited the Tract, which he did frequently, he lodged 
with Pattcr.son, who found his own provisions and also entertained landhuntcrs ; 
and that Patterson attended the surveyor, for which service he was to have three 
and one-half shillings (fifty-eight cents) a day. Borden refuses to pay any 
of these claims, falling b.-ick on the technicality of an English law of 1689 and 
saying that a writing was necessary. The case was dismissed in 1760 without 
award. In Mitchell v. Borden. 1747, John Mitchell s.ays that in consequence of 
a nunor. after the death of the elder Borden, that the son would not give 
title to the places his father and the agents of the latter had .agreed to convcv. 
he himself and several others made preparations to move from the Tr.act. The 
younger Borden, finding his land would be depopulated, and in danger of lapsing 
for want of cultivation, publicly announced that he would perfect and confirm 
all such agreements. Mitchell remained, but Borden sometimes offers some for not making title and sometimes absolutely refuses. Borden rejoins 



that Mitchell did no more than make an entry with Patterson, whom he looks 
upon as an intruder. In Bell v. Borden, which was abated in 1751, James Bell 
says that eighteen cabin-rights were taken by himself and his servant, John 
Milhollcn, and sixteen other men : Thomas Armstrong, George Henderson, John 
and Quentin Moore, Alexander, George, James, Robert, and Adam Brecken- 
ridge, John Bell, William McCanless, John Walters, Robert and Seth Poage, 
John Grove, and Daniel M'Anler. These settlers were to build and improve by 
April 1, 1738, and to be at no expense except the drawing and recording of 
deeds, and a fee of eight shillings for laying oS each tract. The deeds were not 
forthcoming, and the settlers concerned threatened suit. The proprietor then 
agreed to make conveyance, but died before the deeds were executed. The 
younger Borden says he does not know of any improvements by these men, 
and denies that Bell has any right to the 200 acres claimed in behalf of himself 
and Milhollen. 

The McDowells themselves had trouble with the proprietors. The senior 
Borden wanted John McDowell to select on Ilays Creek the 1,000 acres he was 
to have for surveying. McDowell would not accept brushy upland which he 
deemed barren. He brought suit for a selection on Timber Ridge and won, to the 
chagrin of Borden, who wanted the land himself. Mrs. Greenlee's husband 
purchased on Turkey Hill, but the younger Borden resisted giving a deed, al- 
leging that the whole parcel was choice land, and "for the sake of peace" a portion 
of it was given up. Greenlee's title was confirmed by the court. 

The lands remaining unsold after the death of the younger Borden were 
considered of inferior quality. Yet for a long while, sales continued to be made 
by the executors, of whom Archibald Alexander was chief. A report of sales 
that ends in the year 1780, shows that up to that date nearly 300 parcels had 
been disposed of. 

But Benjamin Borden, Jr.. was not always the defendant in this maze of 
litigation. He himself brought many suits, usually to enforce the payment of 
purchase money. 

As to Joseph Borden, Judge McDowell says he was a man "not of the best 
sort." The younger brother came to live with Benjamin, Jr., and went to 
school. The fall after the latter died, he went away by dark, not very well 
liked, and not made very welcome. After his recovery from the smallpox, he 
explored his brother's papers. His sister-in-law missed a bond of some 300 
pounds, and when she accused him of the theft, he asked her in effect, what she 
was going to do about it. About twenty years later he again appeared in the 
Tract and told Samuel McDowell that he had bought out the claim of his sister, 
Mrs. Worthington. McDowell replied that Benjamin, Jr., had bought out the 
rights of his sisters — three of whom had spent about ten days in visiting him — 


because he could not get the lands laid ofT according to the terms of his father's 
will. Joseph Rordcn insisted tliat Mrs. Worthinjjton had never acknowledged 
the deed. To Joseph Walker, the absentee explained his abrupt departure in 
1753. He told Walker he could not get on with his sister-in-law. A friendly 
ser^•ant took his clothes to the woods and caught for him a mare that was the 
leader of a herd. As he rode away he was followed by a drove of horses. 
Walker told him such conduct was very dishonest, and asked him where he 
had been that he had not attended to his claims earlier. 

However, Joseph Borden did pay the sister $300 for her interest in her 
tract of 1,000 acres, and because of this land he brought suit against his niece, 
Martha Harvey, and her husband, Robert. The almost interminable depositions 
and other proceedings during the period 1790-1807 fill two large volumes in 
the office of the circuit clerk at Staunton. The controversy centered for a 
while about a tract of 448 acres owned by an Edmondson, in the "New Providence 
barrens." The kernel of the whole trouble was the provision in the will of Ben- 
jamin Borden. .Sr., that five of his daughters should have 5,000 acres that was "all 
gof>d land." Judge McDowell deposed that as a boy he was a chain-carrier for 
the surveying parties in the Tract, and thus became very familiar with the ground. 
He said it was not possible to embrace 1,000 acres of choice land in a single 
survey, and that it would re(|uire from fifteen to twenty surveys to cover the total 
of 5,000 acres. Joseph Borden died in 1803 at his home in Iredell county, 
North Carolina, but the suit ilragged its weary length along, and was at length 
merged into the suit of Peck v. Borden. It appeared in the docket term after 
term with monotonous regularity. The Borden heirs became more numerous, 
year by year, and the case never seemed ready for settlement. About 1885 the 
circuit judge ordered the funds in the hands of the court, amounting with interest 
to some $5,000, to be paid to the army of heirs. The case was then stricken from 
the docket. It had involved the legality of all the Borden titles, but no landholder 
in the Tract was dispossessed. 

Passing the entire Borden matter in review, it appears in the light of a 
long-continued nuisance and an unjustifiable and injurious monopoly. The elder 
Borden had [>erfnrmed no public service to warrant so large a benefit from the 
public domain. The heirs, with the one exception of Benjamin, Jr., were non- 
residents. There was never any sound reason why the individual purchases 
shoiild not have been patents issiiing from the state. A vast amount of litigation 
and other forms of annoyance would thus havt- been avoi<li'(l 


Social Distinctions— A Virgin Wilderness— Houses— Predatory Animals— Churches, 

Taverns, and Mills — Staunton — Litigation — Wuxs — 

Nature of the Times 

The eighteenth century was less demucratic than our decade of the twentieth, 
and the English were less democratic than the Ulster people. Yet even on the old 
frontier, where leveling tendencies came into play from the very outset, social 
lines were somewhat closely observed. More than a century after the settlement 
of Rockbridge, we are told by Alexander S. Paxton that there was little or no 
social intercourse between the planter on the one hand and the mechanic or the 
ordinary tradesman on the other. In land deeds the social rank, or the occu- 
pation, of one or both parties was frequently mentioned. The institution of 
nobility, universal in Europe in our colonial period, never took formal root 
in our soil. The recognized gradations in social rank were fewer in the 
Valley of Virginia than in Tidewater. In the former district the number of 
those who were technically known as "gentlemen" was quite small. This 
term did not have in 1737 its present rather indefinite application. The gentle- 
man was understood to be one of the upper middle class, coming between the 
nobility and the yoemen. He was descended from freemen, had a coat of arms, 
and had the privilege of wearing a sword. But on the frontier, a prominent 
person, a member of the county court for instance, would be given the title 
as a matter of courtesy. 

The yeoman, according to the British usage, was a freeholder, and was 
qualified to vote and to serve on a jury. In old Augusta this class was numer- 
ously represented, and it was the backbone of its society. Below the yeoman 
was the freedman, who had emerged from servitude and was now in the full 
enjoyment of the ordinary civil rights. On a level with the freedmen were a 
considerable number of people who were penniless or nearlj' so. These were 
sometimfes worthy members of society and sometimes very unworthy. At 
the bottom — and still on the white side of the scale — was the indentured servant. 
With the exception of his larger legal rights, he was practically as much a serf as 
the negro. These white servants were numerous in Augusta and require special 

Some of these people were convicts. But the convict of those days was 
not necessarily a "hard case." The person who purloined a coat or loaf of 
bread to fend off cold or starvation was marked for the gallows by the letter 


of the Mvagr English law. The British judge would order him to be trans- 
ported to America, where he had to undergo servitude a number of years. 
Some other mcnilKrs of this csi)icially Iwys, had been kidnapped from 
the seaports. Still others were debtors, |K)or relations, and ne'cr-do-wclls, 
sent away by their "friends." so as to be out of sight if not out of mind. But 
many a person sold himself to some shipmaster in order to reach America. 
Such a person was known as a "kid." On arrival at an American seaport 
the servants, whether voluntary or involuntarj', were sold by the captain, the 
usual price being alwut $65. The average age at indenture was nineteen, and 
the average term of ser^•itudc was five years. They were bectter fed than 
in Europe and did not work so hard. They were entitled to free time, medi- 
cal attention, commutation from punishment, the right to sue and to compl.iin 
by informal petition, and protection from service to colored persons. When 
the servant's time was out, his freedom dues would help him to get a start in the 
world. If he ran away — and he often did — he was advertised, and if retaken 
he might be branded and whipped. The county court would also decree that he 
should serve his master a year or more of extra time, by way of indemnifica- 
tion for the cost of recovery. On the other hand, there are instances where 
the servant agreed to sers-e a year longer for being purchased from a disagree- 
able master. In 1761, a servant to Sampson and (ieorge Mathews agreed to 
serve them three years extra time in return for their consent to her marrying 
the man of her choice. If in that time there were no issue the brothers were to 
pay her $10 a year, less the cost of her clothes. 

The indenture system, with respect to immigrants, came to an end during 
the Revolution. It was a mode of colonization and it promoted a democratic 
feeling. But with its decline negro slavery grew in favor. The moral in- 
fluence was bad, pnd not a few of the women servants were of loose character. 
When, as often occurred, one of these women had a child by another man than 
her master, she would be re(|uired to serve him extra time. 

There were native a|)prentices as well as imported servants, and with re- 
spect to the general character of the servitude there seems to have been little 
difference between the two classes. The master was not infre<|uriiily summoned 
to answer the complaint of an apprentice. A jKiition of 1811 asks for a more 
efficient means of effecting recovery of the many apprentices that try to ab.scond. 

In the next paragraph we give a specimen of the colonial form of indenture. 
n"he John Rosemaji mentioned therein was a settler of the I^aphine neighbor- 
ho<xl. The McBride name appears in the same locality. 

THIS INDENTURE made the twenty fourth Day of in the year of Our Ix)rd 

ChriU one thcMiiLand »cvcn humlrrd and fifty five WITNESST'TH thai Daniel McUridc 
of the Couiiiy of .Augusta in the Colony of Virginia hath Put himicif apprcniing Servant 


and by these presents Doth Voluntarily Put himself and of his own free will & accord put 
himself apprenting servant to John Roseman Cordwainer or shoemaker of this sd County 
of Augusta in the Colony aforesd to Learn his art and Trade or Mystery after the manner 
of an apprenting servant to sarve him or his assigns from the Day of the Date hereof for 
& During the full Term and Time of two full years next ensuing, During all what time the 
sd apprentice his Said Master faithfully shall Serve his secret Keys his Lawfull Commands 

very gladly obey he shall Do no Damage to his said Master nor see it Done by others 

with out Letting or giving notice thereof to his said Master he shall not wast his said Mas- 
ter's goods nor lend them unlawfully to others he shall not Commit fornication nor Contract 
Matrimony within the sd Term at Cards or Dice or any other unlawfull games he Shall 
not play whereby his said Master may be Damaged with his own goods or the goods of 
others During the sd Term without the License of his sd Master he Shall Xither Buy nor 
Sell he Shall not absent himself Day nor Night from his sd Master's Service without his 
Leave nor haunt ale houses still houses Taverns or play Houses but in all things Behave 
himself as a faithful apprentice Savant ought to Do During the sd Term & Time and the sd 
Daniel McBride doth hereby Covenant and Declare himself Xow to be of the age of 
Nineteen years a single Person & no Covenanted Indented or Contracted Servant or appren- 
tice to any persons or persons whatsoever and the sd Master Shall use the utmost of his 
Indeavors to Teach or Cause to be Taught & Instructed the sd prentice in the Trade and 
Mystery he now professes Occupieth or followeth and procure and provide for him the sd 
apprentice sufficient meat Drink apparel washing and Lodging fitting for an apprentice 
During the sd Term and at the End & Expiration thereof the sd master shall pay unto the 
sd prentice the sum of Ten pounds Current Money of Virginia or the value thereof in 
goods or Chattels and for the true performance of all & every this sd Covenant & agree- 
ment Either of the said Parties binded them selves to the other firmly by these presents IN 
WITNESS whereof they have hereunto Interchangeably set their hands and affixed their 
seales the Day and Year first above written 

The newcomers spoke English of the Elizabethan type that was current 
in Ulster. Words peculiar to the Scotch dialect were also heard. The old pro- 
nunciation vanished in the second or third generation, on .Atnerican soil, yet 
there is abundant evidence of its everj'day use in the colonial age. The broad 
sound of the first letter of the alphabet was much more often heard than it is 
now. A number of conversational expressions, such as "cow-beast," have 
gone out of use, but when our ancestors committed their thoughts to paper, 
their meaning is perfectly clear to ourselves ; more so than our own breezy, 
snappy speech would be to them, if they were here to listen to it. 

Though we speak of Rockbridge as being on the old American frontier, 
it was never, unless to a partial extent for a few years, a section of the back- 
woods fringe. The immigrants continued to clothe themselves very much 
as they had been doing. The dress suit of the gentlemen and yeomen was 
more elaborate than a costimie of this character is now. The colors were 
brighter and more diversified. We read of green and plinii colored broadcloths 
and of bright red fabrics. The coat of a certain militia captain was valued 
by himself at $13.33, and it would have taken two or three of his cows to 


pay for it. \\c tiiul a tailor's bill of $7.67. In llie scitlcnicnt of the estate of 
Adam Dickenson, a pair of silver knee buckles is listed at one pound, a set of 
silver breeches buttons at the same figure, a silk bonnet at $11.33, and a lawn 
handkerchief at $1.25. The man for whom Jackson's River is named lived on the 
very edge of settlement, yet he wore a wig and a stock and buckle. The statue 
of Andrew Lewis at Richmond presents that general in hunting shirt and 
U-pgings. This is a violation of historical fact. He had little to do with the 
conventional garb of the scout and is known to have been particular in the 
matter of rainjcnt. The Reverend Samuel Houston was old-fashioned in his 
attire, which was representative of the epoch under consideration. He wore 
short breeches buttoned and buckled at the knee, long stockings, large shoes 
with heavy silver buckles, a dress-coat rounded in front and with its many 
buttons on one side only, and a standing collar. His broad-brimmed, three- 
sided cocked hat was nvide by John RufT. a famous hatter of Li-xington. His 
riding boots that readied nearly to the knees and had white leather tops were 
made by Colonel Jordan of the same town. 

In many an instance the settler was master of some handicraft, as is often 
n(<ticed in reading the early land deeds. One man was a weaver, another a 
millwright, another a cooper, another a rope-maker, and still another a car- 
penter or cabinet-maker. A very important man was the blacksmith. He did not 
limit him.self to repair work, but was really a manufacturer. He made nails, 
horseshoes, edged tools, and cooper-glazed bells. He also made farm implements, 
except such as were wholly of wood. 

When immigration began to flock into the Rockbridge area in the fall of 
1737, it was not into an unknown land. Governor Gooch had given wide publi- 
city to what had been seen by Spottswood and his companions. The prospectors 
who spied out the choicer portions of the \'alley, with the intention of covering 
them with orders of council or with patents of less ambitious size, were de- 
sirous of seeing people come in. John Lewis, who arrived at I^wis Creek in 
17.^2. very soon had a hundred families of the Ulster folk aroun<l him. and 
when .'\ugusta attained to separ.-iic county goveniiiunt in 171,'^ the population 
of its vast area was about 4,000 

Nearly coinciding with the line of the present \'alky 1 urn|)ikc was an 
Inclian warpath, which, like all the more conspicuous trails of its class, could 
be used by a wagon as well as by a pack-horse. This "Pennsylvania Road" 
was the one thoroughfare by which a stream of immigration jwured into Augusta. 
The court of Orange adople<l it as a county road. The latter portion of its order 
reads as follows : 

And thai the Mid road continue from Beverly Manor line lo Gill>crt CampbcH'f ford 
on the North Branch of jamet River, and that Capn Benjamin Borden, Capn William 


Evins, and Capn Joseph Culton be overseers of the same, and that the gang to clear the 
same be all the inhabitants above Beverly Manor line to the said Gilbt Campbell's ford. 

And that the road continue from Gilbt Campbell's ford to a ford at the Cherrytree 
Bottom on James River, and that Richard Wood, Gilbt Campbell, Joseph Lapsley, and 
Joseph Long be overseers, and that all the inhabitants betwixt the said rivers clear the same. 

And that the said road continue from the said Cherrytree Bottom to Adam Harmon's 
on the New, or Wood's, River, and that Capn George Robinson and James Campbell, and 
Mark Evins, and James Davison be overseers of the same, and that all the inhabitants 
betwixt James River and Wood's River clear the same. 

And that a distinct order be given to every gang to clear the same, and that it be 
cleared; as it is already blazed and laid off with two notches and a cross. Given under our 
hands this 8th day of April, 1745. 

The settlers of tliis county found that much of its area was covered with 
brush, or with "Indian meadows," in wliich the coarse grass and peavine is spoken 
of as quite luxuriant. A forest growth was confined largely to the mountains, 
as in the case of Timber Ridge, whicli derives its name from this circumstance. 
So far from being compelled to clear the land, the settler had sometimes to go 
a mile to find logs for a cabin. And yet, as the "brushy barrens" were considered 
poor, they were passed over in favor of the timbered localities. The early comers 
were particular in refusing all lands they thought to be poor, but afterward 
found their judgment had sometimes been at fault. Thus Timber Ridge was 
settled in preference to open ground that was actually better. 

The country being generally open, it was a comparatively simple and ex- 
peditious matter for the homeseeker to view the land, determine his individual 
preference, and assist in making what were called roads in that early time. If 
any of his open ground went back to its natural forest covering, it was because 
he permitted it so to do. 

The purchases within the Borden grant averaged nearly 300 acres, and this 
was rather less than the customary size of the individual patents around it. 
And since labor-saving machinery was unknown in that day, so large a holding 
was a plantation rather than a farm. As a rule the purchaser was a substantial 
yeoman, and he often had a tenant on his place or one or more indentured ser- 
vants in his household. Under circumstances like these, the normal development 
of the region would be at a quite rapid pace. 

The very first dwelling houses were undoubtedly primitive. They were 
round-log cabins, and sometimes the floor was nothing better than the naked 
earth. There is no doubt that the bark hunting-lodge left here by the red man 
was occasionally used. lUit by all except the moneyless and the easy-going, the 
rough and ready shelter was intended only as a makeshift. The man of property 
who felt that he had come to stay did not lose much time in building a larger 
and better dwelling of hewed logs. The house of Captain William Jameson, of 
the Calfpasture, built in 1752, was probably a fair specimen of a home of the 


pcnnancnl type. It was eighteen by twenty-four feet in the clear, one and one- 
half stories high, and had a shingled roof. The contract price was $22 50. 

The Indian peril, which first manifested itself at the close of 1742, must 
have been a powerful incentive to build houses of strength and a fair degree of 
security. Several structures of this kind are still in existence, but with enlarged 
windows and some other alterations. 

Log houses were the rule for several decades. The immense chimney was 
of stone, the supply of which in Rockbridge is abundant. Before the close of 
the Revolution there were few houses of stone or brick. As the years went by, 
the brick house became increasingly fretjucnt, but it was some time before the 
log house was outnumbered by the framed dwelling. Even yet, the log house 
is far from being extinct in Rockbridge. 

The tilled acreage was small. Grain could be marketed only in the form of 
flour, and then only to a limited extent. Consequently, the pioneer grew little 
more than the supplies consumed on his place. Indian corn, unknown in the 
British Isles, was the only staple he had to learn how to grow. Since only 
the well-to-do could afford clothes of imported cloth, there was much weaving 
of linen and linsy-woolsy. The flax patch was consequently a feature of the 
frontier farm. Hemp was a staple crop, and it was the one most immediately a 
source of ready money. The cultivation of it was encouraged by the colonial 
government. The fiber brought $5 a hundredweight, and there was a bounty of 
$1. More hemp seems to have been grown in Rockbridge than in other parts 
of old .Xugusta. Orchards were begun with young apple and peach trees brought 
from Pennsylvania. Kitchen gardens are said to have been unknown before 
the Revolution. The hint was taken from the Hessian prisoners-of-war at 
Staunton, who were permitted to plant gardens in the vicinity of their camps. 
Wagons were at first scarce, but were rather common during the Revolution. 
The farming tools were few and simple. Almost the only implements drawn 
by horses were the brush harrow and the plow with wooden mouldhoard. 

Rockbridge is well suited to grazing, and the early farms were well stocked 
with horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs. These animals were not so large as the 
breeds of the present day. The immigrants were not slow to see the advantage 
of irrigating the level meadows along the large streams. Such artificial water- 
ing was practiced on Walker's and Kerr's creeks. There is mention of the 
"Egj-pt field" on the last named watercourse. The dams and ditches are now 
gone, and corn is king rather than hay. 

The early comers found the wilderness infested with several predatory 
animals, the most troublesome of which was the wolf. I'or many years it was 
necessary t') i>en the calves and sheep by night to protect them from the bear 
and the puma, as well as the wolf. It is a noteworthy fact that crows, black- 


birds, and honeybees were not known in this region before the arrival of the 
white men. The Indians called the bee the "white man's fly." 

It was provided that the settlers in Augusta should be exempt from levy so 
long as they remained under the jurisdiction of Orange. This was found to be a 
disadvantage, and in response to a petition from them a poll tax of two shillings 
was authorized. This was to provide a fund for paying wolf bounties. The oath 
administered to a claimant of the bounty read as follows : 

I, , do swear that this head by me now produced is the head— or heads — 

of a wolf taken and killed within the county of in Virginia; and that I have 

not wittingly or willingly spared the life of any bitch wolf in my power to kill. So help me 

The whole head of the wolf had to be shown to the magistrate, who clipped 
the ears, administered the above oath, and issued a certificate. In one month 
of 1752, 225 wolf-heads were brought to the Augusta court-house. In 1790, 
forty wolf-heads were presented to the magistrates of this county, the bounty 
then being 100 pounds of tobacco ($3.33) for a grown animal, and fifty pounds 
for a cub. A petition of 1809 says wolves are increasingly numerous, and asks 
that the bounty be raised to $8 and $6. There was the same complaint in 1823. 
In 1831, the bounties were $12 and $6 for wolves and $1 and fifty cents for 
red foxes. In 1834, only one wolf-head was produced, but there were 110 fox 
scalps. Squirrels as well as crows were destructive to the corn, and a law of 
the Revolutionary period imposed a penalty on each tithable for failing to 
present a specified number of scalps each year. Deer, on the contrary, were 
protected by law. A statute of 1792 made it illegal to kill a deer with a bell or 
collar on its neck. 

Except for a few communicants of the Established Church, the pioneer popu- 
lation of Rockbridge was Presbyterian, so far as it adhered to any creed at all. 
The earliest meeting houses are spoken of in another chapter. The Sunday 
services continued from 10 o'clock in the morning until sunset, but with an inter- 
val of one hour for dinner. At a time of communion the meeting continued four 
days, and several ministers were present. People then came from a wider radius 
than usual, and the families living near the meeting house were duly hospitable. 
Some persons walked barefoot to church, putting on their shoes and socks 
after crossing the last branch on tlic road. To serve hot coiTee on Sunday was 
considered a desecration. 

According to I lowe, there was little social intercourse, except within the 
churchyard, and there were no gay amusements at any time. In fact, social 
intercourse was largely of a religious character. The presbytery was the chief 
festival occasion. Dancing lay under a ban, and the "cavalier vices" of Tide- 
water Virginia did not flourish within the mountains. But at length some of the 


Rockbridge people grew idle, merry, and dissipated, and this clement was more 
conspicuous on the very front line of settlement. 

Prior to the orR.inization of Rockhridpc .is a county, there was no town or 
village. The store, tiic ordinary, and the mill were the weekday places where 
the male element was most likely to congregate. There may have been a few 
stores previous to 1777. but we have no knowledge of them. The distance to 
Staunton was not prohibitive, and an occasional visit by a pedlar could be 
counted upon. The ordinary, or tavern, had a name which was painted on a 
board placed near the front entrance. There were a few of these in Rockbridge, 
but they were usually styled houses of private entertainment. There was a fine of 
ten pounds for keeping a tavern without a license. The guest could not be 
made to pay unless there were an agreement in advance. "The White Horse" 
was the name of the McClcnahan hostelry in Staunton. 

The first mill, according to Mrs. Greenlee, was that of Oiarles Hays. It was 
probably built not later than 1740. It was soon followed by the mill of James 
Voung at the mouth of Kerr's Creek. Other mills, dating from about 1752, 
were those of David Moore, Joseph Long, and Joseph Kenne<ly. But in 1747, 
James Allison and Henry Gay had petitioned for leave to build water grist- 
mills. Hefore 1788. and perhaps a little before the opening of the Revolution, 
Thomas Paxton had put up a mill at the mouth of the Buffalo. The earliest of 
these concerns were probably on a par with the tabmills of William Wilson 
and Adam Dickenson in the Bath area. The former w.os built in 1750 at the 
contract price of $20. The labor put into the second mill on the Dickenson 
plantation was in 1763 adjudged to lie worth four pounds cash, or $13.33. The 
tubmill had a wheel five feet in diameter. 

Staunton was the seat of government for the Rockbridge area <hiring two- 
score years, and therefore deserves a few lines of mention. Nine years after 
the coming of the McDowells there was nothing around the little log court- 
house ancl prison except two cabins, one of these being tenanted by a woman 
of e|uestionahle character. The colonial capital was at that time a village of 
about thirty houses. "Stantown" was surveyed in 1750. and three years later 
contained about twenty houses. Two years later yet. a new courthouse, twenty- 
six by forty feet, was completed. In 1761. Staunton was designated as a town 
by legislative enactment, and woo<len chinjneys were no longer to l>e permitted. 
Fairs were authorized in Jime and Noveml>er for the second Tuesday of the 
month. When the Revolution broke out, Staunton was one of the few important 
towns in Virginia anj had scvrral stores and taverns. 

The dfiings within the courtyard were not always tame. The justices were 
repeatedly disturln-d by rioting outside the building or by ball playing. They 
were sonjctimes "damned." or otherwise insulted, while on the bench. In 1754 


a woman called one of them a rogue, and said that on his "coming off the bench 
she would give it to him with the devil." Neither was there the best of public 
order away from the precincts of the court. In 1754 John Clark went into 
the house of Robert McClenahan and demanded satisfaction for a decision given 
by McClenahan as a magistrate. Two years later, three men entered the 
house of Alexander Wright, broke doors and windows, and beat and abused 
Mary McDonnell, an inmate. 

In fact, instances of assault and battery were rather numerous. It was a 
frequent occurrence for a person to complain of standing in fear of bodily hurt 
from some one else, and to ask that the person in question be bound over to keep 
the peace. A certain woman of Kerr's Creek was an offender in this particular. 
Tut notwithstanding the many unruly characters, there seems to have been an 
honest effort to enforce a high standard of conduct, including a strict observance 
of the Sabbath. A certain man, one of whose sons may have been responsible 
for the House Mountain tragedy, was repeatedly summoned to show cause 
why "he does not bring up his children in a Christian-like manner." Samuel 
Dale was presented for taking wheat or flour and mixing it with his own in 
John Wilson's mill. For stealing a blanket from Samuel Houston and a bed 
quilt and a shirt from some other person, Elizabeth Smith asked for corporal 
punishment and was accommodated with thirty-nine lashes on the bare back at 
the public whipping post. 

The settlers of old Augusta were very much given to litigation. The num- 
ber of their lawsuits, prior to the subdivision of the county, runs into the thous- 
ands. Very many of the suits were for debt, and the jail was principally used 
as a boarding house for delinquent debtors. Some of the suits were for slander. 
The charges set forth in these are at times very gross and are described without 
any mincing of words. 

The will of the colonial period usually begins with a pious preamble varying 
in length, yet with so much general resemblance as to indicate that set forms 
were commonly used. Tiie maker then asks that he be given Christian burial, 
and the executors are to see that all claims against the estate are paid or adjusted. 
Provision is next made for "my well-beloved wife," and the items of personalty 
left her are minutely mentioned. She is to live with a son, "if they can agree." 
The son is to furnish her, year by year, a stipulated minimum of garden space, 
firewood, flour, corn, bacon, etc., and perhaps a stated area in flax. "If she 
chooses to live in a house by herself," a small one is to be built by the son who 
inherits the homestead. "If she marry again," her interest in the estate is to be 
curtailed. The children are generally mentioned by name, sometimes in the 
order of age, but as married daughters are commonly spoken of as "Margaret 
Smith," or "Liddy Black," one is not always certain whether a daughter is really 


meant. Sometimes a son is given only a nominal consideration, perhaps with 
the explanation that "he has received his sheer already." Personal properly — 
and also real estate, where there is much of it — it apportioned with much exact- 
ness. Occasionally the homestead is divided, or a son is given lands patented or 
purchased on the "western waters"; on the "Canaway" River or in Ohio, or 
"Caintucky." If there are grandsons hearing the grandparent's given name, they 
arc remembered with a small legacy, and when the will is by a grandinutlur. the 
grandilaughters l)caring her own given name are similarly remembered. Where 
there are several slaves, they are distributed among the members of the family. 
To "my beloved John" will be left accounts due the parent by outside parties. 
To a son will be left "my best suit of close," and to a daughter a horse and saddle. 
Frequently, the children, or a portion of them are minors, and there are directions 
for their support and schooling. Quite often, all the children arc small, and there 
is sometimes another birth to be expected. Not seldom was the pioneer cut off 
by acute illness while in the prime of life. Nevertheless, the merchants sold 
"Lockyer's Pills" and "Duffey's Elixir," just as the drugstores dispense various 
proprietary cure-alls today. 

Light on a well-nigh forgotten burial custom is afforded in the following 
jK-tition by the "wi<low .Mlison." who lived at a ford of North River near the 
mouth of Kerr's Creek : 

ISth March 1773 To Yc \'e>try Whereas Joel Millican came to my house in a very 
low condition destitute of any help (or himself either in body or Roods Therefore provided 
a ltd for him and attended him nine days and he died. I therefore provided a Coffm and 
sheet and a gallon and a half of liquor and had him l>uried in a decent manner accordini; to 
his station which I hope you will take into consideration as I am not of great ability to be 
at so much expense and trouble which is from your Humble Servant 

In 1767 we find the vestry allowing for one "bare skin to lay under Cummings 
and dig Cummings grave." 

L'ntil 1755 there was no regular nwil service with the Rritish Isles, ancl if 
a letter weighed more than one ounce, it cost a dollar to have it delivered there. 
So late as 1775 there were but fifteen postoffices in all Virginia. There were no 
enveloi>es, and pctmasters rend the letters, just as gossip now claitns that country 
postmasters read the postal cards. The first newspaper in the colony was the 
Virt/inia Gascllc, started in 1736. The size of its page was six inches by 
twelve, and the subscription price was fifteen shillings. There was no other 
paper in Virginia until 1775. 

The purchasing power of the <lollar was several times greater in the colonial 
era than it is now. This fact has to be taken into consideration when we read 
of the seemingly very low prices for land and livestock. I'lit some articles were 
relatively more expensive than they are now. Whether, on the whole, living was 



easier in those days is a question on which a study of the paragraphs below will 
throw some light. The values are taken from those chancery papers of Augusta 
which are of a date anterior to the disturbing effect of depreciated currency in 
the latter half of the Revolutionary struggle. 

The rental for three years on a certain farm of 517 acres was $6.46. For 
the same time, James Gay was to pay four pounds a year for 149 acres. A mare 
could be had for $15, although an extra good horse might come as high as $40. 
One to two pounds would purchase a cow, although a young woman, perhaps 
through sheer necessity, sold two cows and a yearling for $10. In ordinary in- 
stances, a sheep or a hog could be had for a dollar. Common labor ran from 
thirty-three to fifty cents a day, yet corn could be gathered and husked for twenty- 
five cents a day, while thirty-three cents would command the services of a person 
who could tend store and post books. A man with his wagon and two horses 
could be hired for fifty cents a day. Rails could be split for thirty-seven and 
one-half cents a thousand, although they might sell as high as $5. A black- 
smith would make a mattock for sixty-seven cents. A carpenter charged eighty- 
three cents for making a churn, $2.50 for laying a barn floor, $6.67 for covering 
a house, and $10.00 for covering a barn. Two pounds would build one of the big 
stone chimneys of that day, and four pounds would build a log dwelling. A bed- 
stead could be made for $1.25, a loom for $5.00, a coffin for $2.17, and a linle- 
kiln for eighty-three cents. A month's board could be satisfied for '$3.00, and 
$10.00 would pay for a year's schooling. The maid-servant of a man on the 
Cowpasture worked for $20.00 a year. 

Wheat and rye varied little from fifty and thirty-three cents a bushel, re- 
spectively. Rye was worth twenty-five to forty-two cents, corn twenty-four to 
thirty-eight cents, and potatoes twenty cents. Flour by the barrel ran all the 
way from $3.25 to $8.33. Butter was five to eight cents a pound, and tallow 
two cents. Beef and mutton averaged hardly more than two cents a pound, al- 
though we once find 400 pounds of bear meat, bacon, and venison billed at 
$25.00. A half of the carcass of a bear is mtntioned at eighty-three cents, and 
a whole deer at thirty-six cents. A "haf buflar" was sold in 1749 for $1.25. Salt 
varied much. We find it as high as sixty-seven cents a quart in 1745. Coarse 
salt could be bought for $2.00 a bushel in 1763, and it cost eighty-three cents to 
have it brought from Richmond. As to sugar, we are sometimes in doubt 
whether maple or cane sugar is meant. White loaf sugar from the West Indies 
was generally twenty-five cents a pound. Brown cane sugar was much cheaper. 

A weaver was paid six cents for each yard of linen that came from his loom. 
But Irish linen cost $1.08, flannel forty-one cents, sheeting $1.25, velvet $3.33, 
and ribbon seventeen cents. The handkerchief cost twenty-five to thirty-three 
cents if of cotton, but seventy-five cents if of silk. Men's stockings, which came 
above the knee and were there secured under the trouser-leg with a buckle. 


cost ciglity to ninety cents. Worsted hose (or women was fifty cents, and plaid 
Ijose tliirly-thrt-e cents. Legpings wore $1.04. pumps $2.00, and men's fine shoes 
$1.41. A blue broadcloth coat is (luotcd at $5.42. Gloves arc listed at fifty-eight 
cents, a necklace at thirty-three, and a fan at twenty-five. leather breeches, 
very generally worn by laboring men, cost $3.17. Common buttons were forty- 
two cents a dozen, silk garters, forty-two cents a pair, and thread was half a 
shilling an ounce. Headgear was high or low in price, according to the means 
of the wearer. A woman's hat is named at $5.00, and a boy's at eighty-three 
cents. But a cheap felt hat could be purchased for thirty-three cents. 

A very creditable specimen of the colonial will is this one by a pioneer settler 
of Kerr's Creek : 

/n the iS'ame of God Amen the 25lh March 1786 I Robert Hamilton of Kcrrs Creek in 
Rockbridge County, being very sick and weak in Body but of perfect Mind and Memory 
thanks \>e given to God therefor. Calling to mind the Mortality of my Body and knowing 
tliat it is appointed (or all men once to die, do make and Ordain this my last Will and Testa- 
ment, that is to say principally and first of all. I give and Recommend my Soul into the 
hands of God that gave it, and for my Body 1 recommend it to the Earth to be Burried in 
a Christian like and decent mannor, at the direction of my Kxecutors. nothing doubling 
but at the General Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God. 
And as Touching such Worldly Estate, wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me with in 
this life, I give and devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form, to 
Witt, first I give and be<|iieath to my wife Margaret a free Room where our bed is with 
all its Furniture thereunto belonging with her Wheel & Reel with all her Cloathing of what- 
ever kind or sort it is likewise One horse called Wilkcnson with a Side Sadie and Bridle 
(new) with suitable Intcrtainment for her Station and Seven |>ounds ye Year to u|>hold her 
in Necesiiaries she finds N'eedfull for herself during life. But in Case should not to live 
in that Station she is to have a liberty of S|>ending her days among either her Children, and 
in Case she should be so disposed, I bequeath her fifteen (lounds ye Year to be paid out of 
my real Estate during Life, or while she continues my Widow, and no longer. .Mso I will 
and Bequeath to my son William Two cows & two Calves to my son .Archibald Five Cows 
and two Calves, and Four Sheep. To my Son Joseph Twenty pounds to be paid out of 
my Real Estate. I give and bequeath to my son John the place where I now live with all 
the Improvements thereunto belonging (he paying all these Legacies as the Will Specifies) 
to him and his heirs forever but in Case he should dye a Batcheler, in that Case the Estate 
to be sold and Equally Divided among the Rest of his Brothers. To Moses Gwynn I be- 
queath Ten pounds to be paid out of my Real Estate. To my Daughter Jennett that fifty 
Acres of Land in Caintuck'y To Mary Erwin my Daughter the 2d \'ol. of Askins works, 
lo Miriam my Daughter One Cow & Calf & four Sheep, to my Daughter Margaret. I 
give or allow a Horse Sad<IIe & Bridle with all her Cloathes. also two Beds and Beding 
tuitalile with one Case of Drawers, three Cows and three Calves with six Sheep — also I 
give to my wife Sarah Callman to wait on her during her Servitude and Hannah her Sister 
to Margaret, my Daughter on Condition of their performing their duty to Ihem ai their 
Indentures Require*. I constitute Wm. Hamilton ft Archibald, my Sons to be my Siole 
Executors, and I do impower them to collrrt all Debts due to me & to Discharge all my 
luiwfull Debt* Revoking all Wills and Testaments heretofore made. I ronfirm this to t>e 
my last Will and Testament. This and only this to be my last Will and Testament and none 
other, in Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal the day and Year above 



Conservative Influences — State and Local Government — Laws and Punishments — 
Writs and Records — Land System — Marriage Regulations — Money 

For about forty years after the beginning of settlement, the laws and institu- 
tions under which the people of Rockbridge lived were those of Colonial Vir- 
ginia. For almost twice as long a period, or until the constitution of 1851 went 
into effect, there was no very striking change. In cutting loose from England, 
the American did not throw away an old suit of clothes and immediately don a 
new suit of quite different pattern. It was more as if the old suit were still worn, 
after being dusted and having a few of the wrinkles pressed out. The coming in 
of the new order is an illustration of the fact that progress is ordinarily by easy 
steps and not by jumps. 

After independence, the law-making body was the General Assembly, but it 
was the House of Burgesses under a new name. From certain official forms 
the king's name was left out. There was still a Governor's Council, and it was 
very much like the old one. The governor was now a Virginian instead of a 
Briton, but like the colonial governor he lived in style, and in attending to his 
official business he followed much the same routine. The Constitution of 1776 
left things a good deal as it found them. There was indeed a re-statenicnt of 
the source of Virginia law, so that there might be a definite recognition of the 
fact that the state was no longer a part of the British Empire. Juries no longer 
said that "we find for our Lord the King." 

The independence party had a conservative and a progressive wing. The 
former wanted independence, but with the least possible change otherwise. The 
latter also wanted independence, but it also wanted to make Virginia a republic, 
so that it might be no longer a constitutional monarchy. The early years of in- 
dependence showed that the conservative element was in control and that the 
progressives had scored only a few points in their program. As the years went 
by, there was a slow but rather steady yielding in the conservative viewpoint. The 
dis-establishment of the state church came early, yet only after strenuous opposi- 
tion. The penal code was ameliorated. Modifications crept here and there into 
the working of the machinery of government. But the constitution of 1829 was 
dictated by the conservatives, whose stronghold lay east of the Blue Ridge. To 
the progressives the new instrument was like a stone instead of a Inaf of bread. 
It was not until 1852, when the third constitution came into effect, tiiat the 
progressives won anything like a general victory. Until that date, and with 


respect to economics as well as institutions, llic people of Virginia continued to 
live under conditions that were essentially colonial. The modern era was ni>t 
fairly under way until the middle of the last century. 

Until 1776, the common law of England, supplemented by the enactim-nts 
of the House of Hurgesses, was the law of N'irginia. The statutes passed by 
the colonial legislature were expected to conform to the British practice. The 
king's veto, which was dictated by the Board of Trade, was freely used, and it 
went so far as to frustrate the attempt to incorporate some town or village. 
After independence these annoyances were a thing of the past. 

Under the foreign regime, the governor was an appointee of the British 
crown and acted as its personal representative. Sometimes he remained in 
England and enjoyed the actual title, the duties of the office being performed 
by a deputy. But the official that appeared in \'irginia lived in pomp and drew 
a very large salary, even for that age. lie was able to wield a great influence, 
although he was commonly an overbearing aristocrat, who took little i)ains 
to acquire the Virginian point of view. After 1776 and until 1852, the governor 
was an appointee of the Assembly and was not elected by the people. The 
royal governor could remit fines and forfeitures, and he could veto any bill. He 
could grant pardon for any crime except treason or wilful murder, and in these 
instances he crnild reprieve. 

In colonial times there was a Council of eight members, who were appointed 
and not elected. They served an indefmitc time and had a monopoly of most 
places of honor and trust. They assisted the governor and acted as a supreme 
court. This council of eight was continued after independence. The members 
of the House of Burgesses were chosen by popular vote, and there were two 
from each county. Until 1830, there were two members from each 
county in the House of Delegates, regardless of the matter of population. After 
1830 there was a more ecjuitable arrangement, and it w-as based on the number of 
people in the various counties. The Senate of 1776 contained twenty- four 

Under colonial rule the elective franchise was much restricted, and this 
continued to be the case until 1852. In edect. there is as much restriction now 
as there was then, even among the whites. But whereas the small vote now j)olU-d 
in the average county of this state is largely due to indifference, it was formerly 
due to a pro|)crty qualification. Voting was viva voce. Until 1852 the burgess 
or delcgnte was almost the only public official, state or local, who was dependent 
on popular vote. 

For a long while there was no higher judicial tribunal than the Council. Under 
indej)cndrnce. there was a State Court of Appeals, any three of its five members 
constituting a minor court. Rockbridge formed with Augusta. RiKkingham, 

CIVIL GOVERNMENT (1737-1852) 47 

and Pendleton a judicial circuit, its judges having full jurisdiction in civil and 
criminal causes, and original jurisdiction in all causes involving a consideration of 
more than 100 pounds. 

With the exception that we shall presently note, the affairs of each county 
were looked after by the county court, a body which until 1852 was almost 
the same thing that it was in 1737. It was a self-perpetuating, close corpora- 
tion, and had more extensive powers than those of tiic present Board of 
Supervisors. When a new county was established, its first board of "worship- 
ful justices" was nominated by the court of the parent county. When vacan- 
cies occurred, or when there was a desire to increase the membership, nomina- 
tions were made by the court and commissions were issued therefrom by 
the governor. The county court was therefore not responsible to the people. The 
system was not democratic. The justices were chosen from the most influential 
families, and were often related to one another. The office often descended 
from father to son. It was in the power of the court to use partiality toward 
its friends and its own membership, and to be arbitrary and tyrannical. But in 
practice the working of the system was in the direction of good government. 
The justices felt the responsibility of their position and were in touch with the 
people. They were not only justices of the peace, but acted collectively, or by 
classes, as a board of county commissioners. They served without pay. They 
iield office for an indefinite time, but the governor might remove a justice 
for cause. Until 1830 there was no positive limitation on the number of justices. 
Four justices made a quorum and opinions were decided by a majority vote. 

Until 1776 a county court was opened by the reading of the royal commis- 
sion: "Be it remembered (date here given) his majesty's commission directed 
to (names of conmiissioned justices here given) to hear and determine all treas- 
ons, petit treasons, or misprisons thereof, felonies, murders, ajid all other offenses 
or crimes, was openly read." The county court had general police and probate 
jurisdiction, the control of county levies, of roads, actions at law, and suits in 
chancery. It passed judgment on all offenses except felonies and high treason, 
these coming before the Governor's Council, to be there examined by a grand 
jury before the final trial in the home county. But in the case of such criminals 
as were negro slaves, it could decree the death penalty and order the sheriff 
to execute it. It appointed the constables and the overseers of the roads, no 
acting justice being eligible in the latter capacity. After independence it ap- 
pointed the county clerk. Under British rule, the county clerk was the deputy 
of the secretary of state, and was appointed by him. A single justice had 
jurisdiction in matters not exceeding the value of twenty-five shillings. In 1788, 
suits at common law and in chancery might no longer come before the county 
court where the consideration was in excess of five pounds. 


Jurors were ordinarily chosen from the locality o( the issue they were to 
pass upon. Tavern-keepers, sur^'cyors of roads, and millers were exempt from 
prand-jury ser\'ice. In 1793 the allowance to a witness was fifty-three cents a 
day, in addition to four cents for each mile of travel. 

In 1808 the court day for Rockbridge was changed to the Monday after 
the first Tuesday in each month. 

A petition of 1802 complains that the recovery of small debts is diflicult, 
and asks that the jurisdiction of single magistrates be extended to $20.00. It 
also asks that constables be required to give security for the faithful discharge 
of their duty, and for the same service as a sheriff to be allowed the same fee. 

Each year the court sent to the governor the names of one to three of the 
senior memlxrrs, one of whom was commissioned by him as sheriff. But the 
high sheriff sold out the office to the highest bidder — sometimes at auction — so 
that the actual work was done by his deputies, while he enjoyed the honor and 
something of the emoluments. The court also nominated the coroner, who 
served during good behavior. His office was more important than it is now, 
since the incumbent was a conservator of the peace. 

The county lieutenant was an appointee of the governor and might be re- 
garded as his deputy. He had charge of the militia of the county, and ranked 
as a colonel in time of war. 

An auxiliary medium of county government was the vestry, one of which 
existed in colonial times in every parish. The parish might be co-extensive 
with the county, or the county might contain two or three parishes. When a 
new county was formed, the members of its first vestry or vestries were chosen 
by the qualified voters. But with a curious inconsistency, the vestry was thence- 
fon\'ard self -perpetuating like the county court. Its executive officers were the 
two church-wardens selected from its own membership. Their duties were 
both civil and ecclesiastical. They built chapels ami rectories for the established 
church and levied taxes for that purpose. They also looked after moral de- 
linquencies, and bound out orphans and bastards. The parish clerk and the 
sexton could Ixr ajjpointed by the rector as well a* by the vestry. The vestry 
fell into disuse during the Revolution, and was never revived. It passed out of 
existence with the dis-establishmcnt of the Episcopal Church. A petition from 
Rcjckbridge. dated May 20. 1780. asks permission for a levy for poor relief. It 
says that as there has been no vestry for some time, the poor have had to trust to 
humane contributions. 

The courthouse known to the people of Rockbri<lgc in 1746 was the one 
first built in AugusLi. It was of hewed logs, and was eighteen by thirty-eight 
feet in size. There were two little win<lows unprovided with glass or shutters, 
but some light came in through unchinked spaces between the logs, a number 

CIVIL GOVERNMENT (1737-1852) 49 

of these openings being several feet long and several inches wide. The jail 
was smaller and not very secure. The first courthouse authorized at Lexington 
was almost as primitive as the one at Staunton. Prisoners might walk about 
within the jail limits, which covered five to ten acres. A prisoner for debt 
might live in a house if it were within such limits. 

Previous to the French and Indian war small printed forms were used for 
legal writs. From then until the Revolution legal papers were written out by 
hand, usually in a neat, legible manner. Very small pieces of paper were used 
and the lines of writing are near together. As for the old record-books, they 
contain many more words to the page than do those of our time, even with 
the use of the typewriter. The lines are near together, but when a coarse- 
pointed quill was used, the writing may be more easily read than the hurried 
scribbling that is customary today. The copyist not only made his small letters 
of uniform height, but he often took time to begin a long entry with a highly 
ornamental initial. Indexing was done on the fly-leaves and with great economy 
of space. The ink was of a very durable kind. None but quill pens were 
known or used, and unlike steel pens, their action is not corrosive to the paper. 

Tlie laws of the colonial era were harsh. Virginia was more humane in this 
respect than England, and yet twenty-seven offenses were recognized as pun- 
ishable by death. In 1796 this number was reduced to one. Lashes at the 
public whipping-post, on the bare back and "well laid on," were frequently 
ordered, thirty-nine being the limit at any one time. Women were thus pun- 
ished as well as men. Imprisonment for debt continued until the middle of the 
nineteenth century. By this time the pillory, the whipping-post, and the practice 
of branding the hand had become relics of a past age. The spirit of the time de- 
manded a more humane administration of the criminal code. 

The constable's path was not one to be envied. A writ of 1765 has this 
endorsement: "Not executed case of by a hayfork." Another constable says 
he was "kept oflf by force of arms." 

Taxes were seemingly low, yet no easier to meet than they are today. The 
poll-tax varied a good deal from year to year, and when new county buildings 
had been contracted for, it must have seemed rather formidable to many persons. 
Before the Revolution and for a while afterward, hemp was generally grown 
on the farms of this county, the state paying a bounty of one dollar per hun- 
dredweight. The certificates therefor, issued by the county court, were re- 
ceivable for taxes. The bounty on a single wolf-head would pay the taxes 
for almost any man. 

Each year several men were appointed by the court to list the "tithables," 
this term being given to those individuals who were subject to head-tax. Aged 
men, any men who were objects of charity, and boys under the age of sixteen 


were exempt. Old or infirm servants were also exempt, but a widow who was 
the head of a houscliold was subject to levy. 

liritish law (oliowcd the Roman in holding that the crown is a personifi- 
cation of the state. Therefore, by virtue of a legal liction all public lands were 
held to be the property of the king. Patents for them were made out in his 
name and signed by the royal govenmr as the king's deputy. The Revolution 
swept away this rubbish and recognized the public domain as belonging to the 
state instead of a theoretical person. The landseeker, armed with a warrant 
frum the stale treasury, perhajis the result of military service, applied to the 
county surveyor and had a tract set off. This survey was the basis on which a 
patent was issued after the lapse of one or two years or perhaps a much 
longer period. The survey might be assigned to another man, and several as- 
signments might precede the patent. A transfer of this sort had to be attested 
by two witnesses. There was much trading in land warrants, and some money 
was made in these transactions. Regularity in surveying was seldom observed. 
The first comer ran his lines in any fashion that would give him a maximum 
of good land and a minimum of cull land. The surveyor held office during good 

In land conveyances before the Revolution, there was followed the English 
practice of drawing two instruments for the same transaction; a deed of lease 
and a deed of release, so that deeds are recorded in pairs in the deed-book. 
The consideration named in the first is usually five shillings. The deed of release, 
which is the real and effective instrument, is dated one day later and names the 
actual consideration. There is sometimes mention of the purchaser receiving 
from the seller a twig in token of possession. The Revolution also did away 
with this clumsy practice of issuing deeds in pairs, each one stuffed full of 
verbose legal technicalities. 

Until 1776, a quitrent of one shilling for each fifty acres was exacted from 
purchasers of the public domain. This requirement was very much disliked, 
and was regarded as a cloud on the title. After American inile|)endcncc was 
declared, the quitrent was speedily abolished. 

The processioning of private holdings of land i)cg\ni m 1747. Kvery 
four years, men appointed for that purpose by the veslry, and afterward by 
the county court, niarked the corners of the surveys. This had to be done 
between October 1st and April 1st. In 1797 the j>ayment per day for this 
service was tifly cents. The |iracticc fell into disuse, but was revived liv .i law of 

Religion was not free in this state until just after the close of the Revolu- 
tion. The established cinirch was the Church of England, known to us aj* the 
Episcopalian. It wa.s supported by general taxation, and each parish owned a 

CIVIL GOVERNMENT (1737-1852) 51 

farm known as a glebe. On this the rector lived. In theory, and to a limited 
extent in fact, attendance at the parish chapel was compulsory. Other Protestants 
were known as Dissenters. Their houses of worship had to be licensed and 
registered by the county court, and their ministers had to take various oaths. 
But west of the Blue Ridge, where few people adhered to the Establishment, there 
was and could be no persecution of the Dissenters. To learn the attitude of the 
Virginia government, the Presbyterian Synod of Ireland addressed a memorial 
to Governor Gooch in 1738. It brought this reply: 

As I have always been inclined to favor the people who have lately removed from 
other provinces to settle on the western side of our great mountains, so you may be assured 
that no interruption shall be given to any minister of your profession, who shall come 
among them, so as they conform themselves to the rules prescribed by the ."Vet of Toleration 
in England, by taking the oaths enjoined thereby, and registering the place of their meet- 
ing, and behave themselves peaceably toward the government. 

This letter has been construed as a letting down of the bars. Yet the 
governor promised nothing to the Ulstermen that the laws did not already per- 
mit. He merely said in eiTect that the newcomers would be let alone, so long as 
they obeyed the laws. There was no limitation on the number of their houses 
of worship, yet they had to contribute to the support of the Establishment 
just the same as if they had settled on the other side of the Blue Ridge. Their 
ministers were not permitted until the close of 1781 to unite couples in marriage. 
John Brown married two couples in 1755, but finding he was violating a law, 
he did not again perform a marriage ceremony for twenty-six years. The 
people of the Valley were restive under the disabilities imposed on them, and 
were nearly unanimous in helping to secure religious freedom for Virginia, this 
end being accomplished in 1784. It is claimed, and probably with reason, that 
the lack of express toleration kept thousands of intending immigrants out of 
colonial Virginia. 

The ruling element in colonial X'irglnia held that education is a private and 
not a public interest, and that schooling is to be purchased like clothing or 
groceries. The constitution of 1776 is silent on the subject. The mention of 
schools in the public records is accordingly very meager ajid incidental. We 
find mention of a schoolhouse in 1753, which was sixteen years after the coming 
of the McDowells. It is not at all probable that it was the only one, or that it 
had just been built. 

During the colonial time a marriage was solemnized by the parish minister 
or parish reader, but the certificate he gave was not deposited with the county 
clerk. The public recording of marriages did not begin until about the close 
of 1781, and it is therefore difficult to secure definite knowledge of unions that 
took place before that date. By the new practice, the groom was required to 


sign a bond of fifty pounds. His surety was commonly tlic bride's fatlier. If 
either groom or liridc were under tlie age of twenty-one, and this was very 
often the case, the consent of the parent or parents had to accompany the 
bond, which served as a license. The consent was ordinarily written on a 
narrow scrap of pajicr, and often with poor ink. The signature, if not in the 
fonn of a mark, is usually crabbed and more or less difTicuIt to make out. This 
scrap, not always unsoiled, was folded into a small compass, making it look 
like a paper of epsom salts as put up by a doctor before tablets and capsules 
came into use. The bonds were filed away in bundles. This system was in 
force until 1852. 

Personal liberty was so highly prized on the old frontier that a certain 
statute of 1661 must have seemed irksome to the settlers. This law made it 
illegal for any person to remove out of his county until after setting up his 
name for three Sundays at the door of the church or chapel of his parish. This 
notice had to express his intention and certify where he was about to go. It was 
then attested by the minister or reader and the church-wardens, who gave him 
license to go. The order-books of Augusta indicate that this law was not a dead 

Tlic house of entertainment was called an ordinary. The prices the 
tavern-keeper might charge were regulated by the county court with great 
exactness. These rates had to be posted in the public room and not above a 
specified height from the floor. This care was not needless. Extortion would 
otherwise have been more possible than it is now. 

Money was computed, as in England, in pounds, shillings, and pence. But 
on this side of the Atlantic these names applied to values and not to coins. In 
the "current money of N'irginia," the pound represented $3.33, the shilling six- 
teen and two-third cents, and the penny one and seven-eighteenths cents. Be- 
cause of the depreciation of the colonial money, British coins did not freely 
circulate here. The hard money in acttial use came from the West Indies, and 
was of Spanish, French, and Portugese coinage. Thus we read of the pistole, 
the doubloon, and the louis d'or, or "loodore." Tliese were gold coins worth, 
respectively, $3.92, $7.84, and $3.%. It was by way of the West Indies that 
the Americans becanie acquainted with the "piece of eight," or Mexican dollar. 
Eight reals made a dollar, the real being a silver coin of the value of nine pence, 
or twelve and one-half cents. The earliest mention of the dollar by name, in 
the Augusta records, is in 1752. The f.-urt that the Mexican dollar .subdivided so 
readily into the terms used in computing the colonial money, is the leading reason 
why the dollar, a well known coin. I)ccame the unit of I'ederal money. Under 
the names of "levy" and "fip," the real and half-real were Ii imI iimli r in the 
United States until near the beginning of the war of 1861 

CIVIL GOVERNMENT (1737-1852) 53 

Since the gold and silver coins that passed from hand to hand were of 
so varied a character, it was tedious and inconvenient to turn their values into 
Virginia money. A sum of money is spoken of in 1750 as made up of one 
doubloon, one pistole, two moidores, and two pieces of silver. The value of these 
Spanish and Portuguese coins was about $24.00. It was customary to com- 
pute the foreign money by weight, and hence money-scales are often mentioned 
in inventories of personal property. Copper pennies were coined for Virgfinia 
in 1733. This coin was worth almost exactly one cent. Paper money of colonial 
issue began to appear in the colony in 1755. The ten-pound note was not quite 
one-half the size of a postal card, was crudely engraved, and was too easy to 
counterfeit. Warehouse certificates for tobacco also passed from hand to hand 
as money and did not need endorsement. When a money consideration was 
written into a legal document, the sum usually mentioned is five shillings. The 
legal rate of interest was five per cent. There were no banks, and when a large 
stock of money was on hand it was secreted. There is very frequent mention 
of Pennsylvania currency, in which the pound was worth $2.50 and the shilling 
twelve and one-half cents. 

Money, whether of metal or paper, could be counterfeited with more im- 
punity than is possible today. We not infrequently find mention of bad bills 
and suspicious doubloon certificates. 

ANNALS OF 1737-1777 



nil tithablcs— Nov. 18. 1735. 

Road surveyors to set finger-boards at every crossroads in large letters. 

The Rev. Richard Hardwell presented for being drunk. — 1741. 

James Phillips fined ten shillings for non-attendance at his parish church, and for not 
appearing to answer the charge against him. 

Poll tax, fourteen jjounds of tobacco — 1744. 

Andrew Campbell takes out a i)cdlcr's license — 1740. 

WoIf-hcads turned in by Charles Campbell. James Hamilton, John James, and Richard 

Constables: 1741, James McDowell: 1742. Hugh Cunningham: 1743, Joseph Lapsley, 
John Mitchell. William Moore, and James Anderson; 1744, Samuel Gay. 

Militia officers: John Mathews and Patrick Hays ap|)ointed captains in 1742; William 
Jameson, captain, 1745; .Mexander Dunlap, captain of horse, 1743: Henry Gay, lieutenant 
in 1744, and .Andrew Hays in 1745. 

People of Borden Tract |>etition for a road from James Young's on to Borden's Tract 
by a gap in Blue Ridge called .Michael Woods' Gap Francis McCown. Samuel Walker, 
Captain Charles Campl>ell. and Captain Patrick Hays among the overseers. Colonel J.ime» 
Palton to lay ofT the precincts. South River to be crossed at the plantation of Samuel 

Tavern rates, 1742: Hot diet, one shilling; cold diet or loging. sixpence each; com or 
oat», per gallon, sixpence; stabling and fodder for one night, or pasturage for twenty-four 
hours, sixpence; Barbadoes rum, |>er gallon, eight shillings; New Engl,ind r\nn, per gallon, 
two shillings and six|>encc ; Virginia brandy, |>er gallon, six shillings ; claret, per gallon, four 
shillings; Virginia cider, i>er quart, four and half pence. 


Robert Young a|ip<>inted constable in Richard WoocU's militia company, and James 
Greenlee to succeed William .Moore in Benjamin Borden's company. Greenlee afterward 
excused on account of illiteracy. 


Joseph I.aptley and John Peter Sailing sworn in as captains, Robert Renick as first 

Statements of losses by Indians certified to in case of Richard Woods, John Mathews, 
Henry Kirkham, Franciv McCown, Joseph lapsley, Isaac Anderson, John and James 
Walker.-Feh. 19th. 

James Huston and three other men presented for being vagrants, and hunting and 
burning the »<K.d»; »n information given by John Peter Sailing, James Young, and John 
McCown. Huston fined three |>ounds for illeg-illy killing three deer. 

ANXALs OF \in-\m 55 

Constables : William Taylor from Benjamin Allen's to the lower end of the county ; 
William Gay on the Calfpasture ; Michael O'Dougherty in Woods's company: John McCown, 
Michael Finney, and Thomas Williams in the Forks of James. Samuel Dunlap, John 
Ramsay, and John Campbell succeed, respectively, Nathaniel McClure, William Gay, and 
Robert Gwin. Alexander McCroskey is also a constable. 


Henry Gay, James Allison, John Hodge, and John Edmondson petition for leave to 
build gristmills. 

The road formerly cleared from James Young's mill to Woods's Gap to be altered. 

John Allison given license for a ferry between his landing and Halbert McCIure's. 

Robert Patterson and James Allen to view a road from John Picken's mill to lower 
meeting house. 

Petition by James McCown for road from crossroads below Patrick Hays. Hays is on 
north side of South River. 


Richard Burton to take the list of tithables in the Forks. 

Roger Keys and Sarah, his wife, win in a slander suit against Ephraim McDowell. 
John Lyle is a witness. 

George Campbell presented for striking and beating Joseph Walker in the court- 
yard. Henry C— presented for assaulting and beating Joseph M in a meeting 

house yard at a time of burial service. 

Constables : David Dryden and William Lockridge succeed Samuel Dunlap ; William 
Woods succeeds John McCown ; Alexander Walker succeeds Michael Dougherty. 


Archibald Alexander, Benjamin Borden, William Jameson, Samuel Gay, John Lyle. 
John Mathews, and Richard Woods are on the list of justices. 

Benjamin Borden to take the list of tithables from North River to the end of the 
county; David Stuart, from the courthouse to North River. 


A road has been cleared over the Blue Ridge at "Woods's old gap" — May 25. 

Road ordered from John Hays' mill to Providence meeting house. Posts of direction 
to be set up. 

Richard Burton, Robert Renick, John Poage, Peter Wallace, are to survey a road 
from Looney's Ferry to North River; Benjamin Borden, John Thompson, Isaac Taylor, 
and William McClung are to survey to the intersection with the county road. 

Road ordered from William Gay's to Robert McCutchcn's and thence to Robert Camp- 
bell's. McCutchen to build the road with the help of William Elliott, Thomas Fulton, John 
Fulton, John Meek, Thomas Meek, John Williams, and John Gay. 

John Maxwell, James McDowell, and Edward Hogan were in a canoe on the James, 
Sunday, May 13 (Old Style). The boat upset and Hogan was drowned. Coroner's jury 
at James Greenlee's, five days later: Michael Dougherty, Josiah F. Hcndon, John Hitchins, 
Joshua Mathews, James Montgomery, John Poage, John Ramsey, John Vance, Matthew 
Vance, Samuel Walker, Joseph Walker, and Walker. 

William Lusk a justice. 
Archibald Alexander, Michael Finney, John Hargrove, John Maxwell, and John Peter 


Sailing «re lurvcyors for ■ road from David Moore's Mill to Robert Poige's mill. 

Order for road from Hays' fulliiiK mill to Timber KidRc mcetitiR house. 

Constables: James Phillips vice Samuel McCutchen; William Klliott vice James Gay: 
Richard Cousart vice James Greenlee; John Gilmore vice John Allison. 


James Young, miller, presented for taking toll twice. 

Road ordered from William Cleghom's to Purgatory. 

Benjamin Borden to lay off a road from his house to Providence meeting house. John 
Pal ton, sur^-eyor. 

Petitioners for a road from Kennedy's mill to John Houston's, and from Houston's 
to the great road from Timber Grove to Woods' Gap : Robert Alexander, Andrew Duncan, 
Kot>ert Duiilap. Walter I-^ikin, James I-lakin, lolin Kdmondson, John Handly, Patrick Hays, 
James Hill, John Houston, Joseph Kennedy, William Lockridge, William McConnell, John 
Montgomery, Andrew Steele, Robert Stuart, John Stuart, William Wardlaw, and John 

Petition of settlers on the lower Cowpasture petition for a road over the mountains 
to the Borden Tract— Oct. 19. 


225 wolf -heads turned in — Nov. 22. 

Cornelius Bryan given permission to cut a road at his own expense from the "bent" 
in HtifTalo to Michael DouRherty's. 

Members of grand jury, .Nov. 20: Robert Bralton. James I^ockridRe, John Anderson, 
William Caruthers, Archibald Alexander, John Paxton, and Samuel McClure. James 
Trimble, foreman. 

John Paxton road overseer from Edmondson's mill to Fork Meeting House. 

Order for a road from Campbell's schoolhotise to the Renick road. Samuel Walker, 
overseer. Workers: John Allison, Samuel .Mlison, Stephen .\niold. Richard Burton, 
William Burt, William Byers, James Fraiier, Henry Fuller, John Hiitchings, Sr., John 
Hiitcbings, Jr., John Maxwell, John McColley. Richard Mathews, Sampson Mathews, 
William Noble, John Petect, Joseph Ryan, Thomas Shaw, John Smith, Joseph Smith. John 
Sprowl, John Peter Sailing, George Sailing, Mathew Vance, Samuel Walker. 


Several runaway servants taken up. 

Joseph Tees fined twenty shillings for saying, "he got nothing in this court but 

Lancelot Graham constable on Great Calfpasture, William Ramsay on Little Calfpasture. 
Thomas Paxton constable to succeed John I-owry. 

James l>ockridge appointed a lieutenant. 

Mary XfcDonald b<iund over to keep the pence ior putting Jnhn (. uniiinKhani in fear 
of his life. CunninRliam has tavern license. 
Order for a road from Isaac Taylor's •■■ ' 
Abraham Brown cot. stable IkIow Bru ' - iki of James. 

Mary, wife of William Whiteside, refused separate maintenance. The cotirt blames 
certain of her relatives for the breach. 

ANNALS OF \7i7-\717 57 

Many claims for ranging and for tlie impressment of horses are ordered certified. 

Valentine Utter and Mary, his wife, servants of John Paxton, are set free on con- 
sideration of their paying him twelve pounds. 

Constables: David Doak vice Samuel Braford; Samuel Steele vice James Walker; 
Moses Whiteside in James Kennedy's company ; Samuel Wilson vice Alexander McNutt. 

Constables : John Shields vice John Henderson ; William Logan vice Andrew Campbell ; 
William Rhea vice Samuel Steele; John Paxton vice Abraham Brown; Thomas Kirk- 
patrick vice Thomas Berry. 


James Alexander becomes a captain. 

John McCroskey road overseer from Alexander Miller's to the line of Beverly Manor; 
Charles Hays, from Andrew Hays' mill to Captain Kennedy's. 

Order for a road from Hays's mill to Timber Ridge meeting house. Overseers, 
Alexander Miller, Joseph Culton, and Archibald Alexander. 

Richard Woods, sheriff. 
Samuel McDowell, captain, James McDowell, lieutenant, John Lyle, ensign. 

Joseph Culton granted mill license. 

John Dickenson and James Lockridge to survey a road from John Wilson's to Panther 


John Paxton granted tavern license. 

John Buchanan to take the list of tithablcs on the south side of the James, Richard 
Woods in the Forks, Archibald Alexander from North River to Beverly Manor, and James 
Lockridge in the Pastures and on Jackson's River. 

John Mathews is road surveyor from North River to the junction with the road near 

Archibald Alexander, Felix Gilbert, Andrew Hays, John Tate, John Buchanan, to 
survey a road from Stuart's to the top of the mountain near Rockfish Gap. Tithables to turn 
out from Woods Gap to Jennings Gap, and from between North Mountain and South 
Mountain to North River. — Aug. 19. 

John Moore of Borden Tract presented for staying away from public worship. 


John Houston overseer of road from Timber Ridge to Providence. 
James McDowell, captain, William McKee, lieutenant. 

For having two children taught dancing Israel Christian is sued for five pounds. 
Thirty-three justices, inclusive of Richard Woods, John Bowyer, James Buchanan, 
Archibald Alexander, John Maxwell, and Samuel McDowell. 


John Paxton certifies to 7720 pounds of hemp. 

John Anderson made oath to an accoimt of five pounds expense in taking up his 
servant, Edward Lochan, who was absent twenty-nine days. Ordered that Lochan serve 
Anderson fifteen months extra time. 


Daniel Lyie, William Kamtay, and James Simpson to view a way from North River to 
.lames Sliii»on's (Stevenson) on Buffalo. 

Samuel and David Lyic to view from William Davis's to Timber Ridge. 

John Mathews with wife and six children were burned in and with their house accord- 
ing to a statement by Sampson Mathews. Christian Godfrey Milliron is bound on suspicion 
of being guilty of the deed. 

George Lewis is held for trial because of driving a wagon on Sunday. 


For provisions and impressed horses for the use of the militia, claims are turned in by 
Thomas .Mcxandcr, Robert Bratton. John Dunlap. William Elliott, John Finlay. Hugh 
Fulton, James Mateer, Samuel McCutchen, Willi.-»m McKcmy, William McNalib, Daniel 
O'Frcel, Thomas Poage, John and Mary Trimble, and Joseph Walkup. 

Judith Ryley convicted of killing her bastard child. 

John Greenlee road surveyor from John Mathews, Jr's., to Sinclair's Gap. 

James Cloyd over5ccr of road from lower end oi John Bowycr's plantation om James, 
by Cedar bridge, to Xfathcws road. Workers: John Berry, M,itthew Hair, John Hall, 
William Hall. John Jones, John I-ogan, James McClure. James Skidmore, George Skillem, 
Christopher Vineyard, Conrad Wall, George Wilson. 

Old and new roads from Isaac Taylor's to Timber Ridge meeting house. 
Andrew Hays, captain, James Cloyd. captain, James Lapsley. ensign. 
Samuel Todd asks for a mill license on Whistle Creek. 

View for a road ordered from Hanna's mill on Collier's Creek to George Gibson's at 
House Mountain. 

Road open from Cowpasture to Gilmore's Gap. 

Thomas Paxton is making grape brandy. 
Robert Steele has a mill. 

Jamet Cowdcn has a stone house near Samuel McDowell''- 
John Summers constable in place of Alexander Dale. 

Jacob, a slave, ordered to have thirty-nine lashes for >h<)otiTiK .n the rhiMrcn of 
Alexander Moore. 


Charles Hays certifies to 2293 pounds of hemp. 
George .Mathew». sherifT. 

John Hays, James McDowell. Samuel McDowell, and Archibald Houston are vestry- 

John Caldwell has lewve to build an oil mill on 5«outh River. 


Brice Hanna. contractor to do work at New IVovidence. failed and ran ofT Charles 
Campljell, Alexander Mmire. William Walker, and James Walker, commissioners. 

ANNALS OF 1737-1777 59 


Order for a road from Thomas Lackey's to Timber Ridge meeting house. 

Alexander Stuart, neighbor to William McClung, granted mill license on Mill Creek. 

Samuel McDowell qualifies as justice. 

For illegal selling of liquor, Thomas Mathews asks for corporal punishment in place 
of a fine. Twenty-one lashes to be given at once and costs imposed. 

Road ordered from head of Kerr's Creek to North River. In 1774 the bridle-path is 
reported to be the most convenient waj. 

Hemp certificates given: to James McKee for 2290 pounds; John McKee, 2415; Isaac 
Anderson, 2863; John McCown, 2566; .Andrew Hays, 3300; James Kerr, 2ill\ James 
Lindsay. 1070. 

Dr. George Parker, servant of Samuel McChesney, agrees, with the approval of the 
court, to pay McChesney 100 pounds for his freedom, on condition of being given a horse 
and saddle worth ten pounds, and drugs and medicines worth thirty pounds, and is to pay 
ten pounds a year for his board until the sum of 100 should be paid up. Parker is to keep 
the horse at his own expense. 


John Gilmore, John Lylc, and David Gray are captains. 

Nat, an Indian boy in the custody of Mary Greenlee, complains that he is held in 
unlawful slavery. A stay is granted until Mrs. Greenlee's son in the Carolinas can be heard 
from. Meanwhile, Nat is hired out until it can be determined w-hether he is slave or free. 
The court considers that Mrs. Greenlee has treated him in an inhumane manner. 

Zachariah Johnston and Andrew Moore, captains. 

Liberty to inoculate for the smallpox is granted to the people of Staunton and for 
three miles around. 



Richard Woods is first high sheriff, and James McDowell and James McGavock and 
John Bowyer are his undersheriflfs. John Maxwell is sheritT in 1773. 

James Bailey and Joseph Davis are constables on Buflalo, and William Hall on Cedar. — 

Salary of king's attorney is 4000 pounds of tobacco, the equivalent of sixteen pounds 
thirteen shillings four pence, or $55.55 in Federal money. 

Surveyors of roads, 1770: Audley Paul and Hugh Barclay, from Rcnick's to James 
Gilmore's; James Simpson, from Gilmore's to Buffalo; John Paxton, from Buffalo to North 
River Ferry; James Templeton, from Buffalo ford to North Iviver; George Franci^ico, from 
Fork of road below Barclay's to the Buffalo; James Templeton, from ford of Buffalo to 
North River. 

William McKee to take the tithablcs from the county line to the Buffalo and froiu 
mountain to mountain; Benjamin Estill, from the Buffalo to the James and from moun- 
tain to mountain. 

John Bowyer, John Maxwell, James Trimble. William McKee, James McGavock, and 
Robert Poage are among the first justices. 

Hugh Barclay has license to keep an ordinary — 1770. 

Wolf-heads, 173—1770. 

Charles Given certifies that his left car was bitten off by Francis McDonald— 1771. 


Elizabeth Collier agrees to serve her master, James Green, one year extra time, pro- 
vided he employs her as house-servant — 1773. 

Head-tax, sixty-seven pounds of tobacco ($2.00) ; Tilhables, 1494, of whom 229 are 
delinquent — 1773. 

Allowance of $40.00 for furnishing courthouse with candles and firewood — 1773. 

Tavern rales: Warm diet with good meat, one .shilling; culd diet, seven and one-half 
pence; ludging in good bed with clean sheets, six i>cnce; lodging with two or more in 
bed, four i>ence each; grain, per gallon, six pence — 1775. 

Samuel Wallace, road surveyor from Paxton's ford on North River to ford in BufTalo. 

Benjamin Kstill and John Dowyer among the persons appointed to administer the oath 
of allegiance to the free white inhabitants, as per Act of Assembly ; Estill for the com- 
panies cif Juhn Paxlon and James Hall, Bowyer for the companies of William Paxton and 
Samuel Wallace — August 13, 1777. 

Contract let for building a prison sixteen by twenty feet, logs squared to the dimensions 
of fourteen by fourteen inches to form the walls and the upper and lower floors. 



An Empty Land — Indian Mounds — Indian Meadows — Relations Between the Races — 

The McDowell Fight — Blockhouses — The Renick Affair — The 

Kerb's Creek Raids — Dunmore War — The Long Hunters 

The Rockbridge area was a vacant land when found and explored by the 
whites. That such had always been its condition does not follow by any 
means. There have been inhabitants in America since a day that makes the 
voyage of Columbus seem as but an occurrence of last year. In the Western 
Hemisphere as in the Eastern, we may be sure that war, or pestilence, or some 
other catastrophe has here and there emptied a region of its human occupants. 

It is true enough that the arrowheads, pipes, scrapers, and other relics, 
which have been numerously found in various localities, do not necessarily point 
to a period of settled occupation. Hunting operations continued for centuries, 
varied by an occasional tribal fight, are sufficient to account for these. It was 
possibly by hunters alone that the Indian path was made which may be seen 
on Jump Mountain opposite Wilson's Springs. It was possibly by hunters alone 
that the stone-pile on North Mountain was built up. 

But all these suppositions are not enough to account for the mound which 
used to stand on the Hays Creek bottom, a very short distance below the mouth 
of Walker's Creek. At the time it was dug away and examined by Mr. Valen- 
tine, it was almost circular, averaging sixty-two feet in diameter at the base 
and forty feet on the flat top. The vertical height was then four and one-half 
feet, but the Gacette in 1876 speaks of it as having been ten or twelve feet 
high. The encroachments of cultivation had undoubtedly much diminished the 
original bulk. The excavators found eighty perfect skulls and more than 400 
skeletons. In all instances the legs were drawn up and the arms folded across the 
breast. Shell-beads and pendants were found on the necks of twenty-eight of the 
skeletons. A few pieces of pottery and some other relics were found, and there 
were eight skeletons of dogs, several of these being almost perfect. The site 
is now completely leveled, and the exact spot is in danger of being forgotten. 

To those who know something of the customs of the Red American, it is 
evident that this mound was a burial mound, and that near it was once a village. 
Indian huts were of very perishable materials, and it is not at all strange that 
no trace of the village can now be found, unless by a trained investigator. At the 
time of white settlement — about 1738 — there may have been a very low earth- 
ring, marking the site of a palisade, and tiiis could soon iiave been destroyed 


by rcjjcated plowings. At all events, no recollection of such a ring seems 
to remain. 

W'ijite people arc vrry prone to imagine that tiu- native mounds were 
built over the corpses of the braves slain in battle. Hut the Indian war party 
rarely comprise more than a few dozen men, and often it was exceedingly 
small. The victors would lo-c but a few of their number, if any. and these 
were buried in individtial graves marked by little mounds of loose stones. The 
vanquished dead were left to be devoured by wild beasts. It is to be remembered 
that until a <|uite recent time the F.uropean nations held themselves to Ik 
under no obligation to bury the dead of a defeated army. The fact that 
many of the skeletons in the Hays Creek mound were of women and girls, 
and the conventional mo<lc of interment, show that the burials distributed over 
a considerable period of time. As to the age of the mound, there is no 
answer but conjecture. Earthworks lend to endure indefinitely, and in this 
instance the bones began to crumble on exposure to the air. This burial mound 
may have antedated the coming of the white man by several centuries. 

A tradition of uncertain authenticity tells of a battle between Indians at the 
mouth of Walker's Creek. It further tells of a squaw who witnessed the fight 
fronj the end of Jump Mountain, and leaped over the precipice on seeing the 
fall of her companion. The tradition niay be correct. The battle could not have 
resulted in the mound, though it may have resulted in the extinction of the 
village. The Indian's eyes were good, yet not keen enough to identify a man 
from the top of the precipice several miles away. 

The Ulster people were very disputatious, particularly as to the meaning of 
texts from the Bible. An old resident of Hays Creek contended all his life as to 
the name of the tribe that built this mound. He made a solemn request to be 
buried on the hill facing it. so that at the resurrection he might Iw the first one 
to sec his theory vindicated. 

Within the memory of men still living, a mound stood near Glasgow close to 
the posili«>n of the lowest county bridge on North River. On the Huffalo was a 
burial moun<l. No other earthmounds, extant or leveled, have been named to the 
writer. It is surprising that there is no knowledge of any mound on the bottom 
near Kerr's Creek postofiice. Such a spot would have appealed to the Indian 
as a place of settlement. 

Mention has Itcvn made of the slone-heap on the very summit of North 
Mountain. It stands close to the Lexington and Rockbridge /Mum Turnpike. 
It used to be twenty feet long, six feet wide, and four feet high, but the 
two holes dug into it have lowered the height anel <lis.nrranged the once nicely 
rounded toj). The pieces of rock are wholly of brown ironstone, such as is fmrnd 
abundantly on the western face of the mountain. Isaac Taylor, a Rockbridge 


man who went to Ohio, was told by an Indian that it was the work of a war 
party from the West. Each brave, while passing over, was to throw down a 
stone, and on the return each survivor was to pick one up, so that a count of 
the remaining ones might determine the loss. The expedition was disastrous 
and the heap remained quite intact. If the tradition be correct, it must apply 
to some other and smaller stone-pile. Before being tampered with, this mound 
must have contained several thousands of rock-fragments. Much more reason- 
able is the conjecture that it grew up little by little, and was due to a custom 
of the passing red man to drop a stone as an act of propitiation to the Great 
Spirit, and as the expression of a wish that his journey might have a favorable 
outcome. It was in fact a practice of the red man to rear a mound where his 
trail went through a mountain pass. This pass was used by him and when the 
trees are leafless it commands a view of the Kerr's Creek valley. 

When the white explorer came the Rockbridge area, like the Valley of Vir- 
ginia in general, was largely occupied by tracts of prairie. These were known 
as Indian meadows, or as savannas, the word prairie having not yet come into 
the English language. These meadows were fired at the close of each hunting 
season so as to keep back the forest growth and thus attract the butlalo and other 
large game. This practice had undoubtedly been going on for centuries. 
Throughout all Appalachia nature strives to keep the surface clothed in forest. 
A large expanse of open ground could only originate in the little clearing that 
always surrounded the native village. The persistent firing of a deserted clear- 
ing would make the meadow steadily increase in size. 

After white settlement began, parties of Indians continued to come here 
to hunt, or to pass through on some war expedition. The Iroquois of New 
York were the native claimants of the district, and they were at feud with 
the Cherokees and Catawbas to the southward. Hunting parties would build 
bark cabins for temporary shelter, and these were sometimes temporarily used 
by the whites. 

John Craig was for a third of a century the minister at the North Mountain 
Meeting House near Staunton. He lived five miles away and walked to church 
carrying his gun on his shoulder. He wrote that the Indians "were generally 
civil, though some persons were murdered by them about that time (1740). They 
march about in small companies from fifteen to twenty, and must be supplied 
at any house they call at, or they become their own stewards and cooks, and 
spare nothing they choose to eat and drink." 

While he was hunting, the Indian took food wherever he found any, and he 
considered that animals running at large were lawful game. If he expected free 
and liberal entertainment, it was because he was ready to treat others as he 
expected to be treated himself. There were no bounds to his hospitality, be- 


cause in the usage of his race food was not private property. But the points 
of view of the two races were very diverKcnt. Tlic native tliought the paleface 
uncivil and unliospitablc, and was nut attracted to his manner of living. Neither 
did he like being elbowed step by step out of the hunting ground which for 
generations had belonged to his fathers. The white man despised the Indian 
as a heathen and was contemptuous of his rights. lie regarded him as a thief 
and wished he would keep out of the way. He deemed it "contrary to the laws 
of God and man for so much land to be lying idle when so many Cliristians 
needed it." But notwithstanding the sources of distrust, the tribesmen were 
in a general way friendly until 1753. They learned to express themselves in 
Elnglish, and it is significant that they became very familiar with terms of 
insult and profanity. In their own langu.ij,'es there were no "cuss words," and 
they did n<jt comjjrehend the real nature of them. 

The first clash between the settler and the aborigine took place near the 
mouth of North River, December 18. 1742. Our information as to the cause 
itself is meager and obscure. The current account is the one written by Judge 
Samuel McDowell, sixty-five years after the lime of the tragedy. But the judge 
was only seven years old when it occurred, and the most definite impression 
made on his mind was the sight of the lifeless bodies of his father and the other 
men who were killed, after they had been brought to Timber Kidge for burial. 
In a practical sense, his knowledge of the matter was derived from older persons 
and not until he had reached a mature age. 

The judge relates that thirty-three Iroquois came into the Borden tract on 
their way to fight the Catawbas, and gave the settlers some trouble. They were 
entertained a day by Captain McDowell, who plied them with whiskey. They 
then went down South River, lay in camp seven or eight days, hunted, took what 
they wished, scared the women, and shot horses running at large. Complaint 
being made. Colonel Patton ordered McDowell to call out his militia company, 
and conduct the Indians beyond the settled area. McDowell took about thirty- 
four men, these being all the county could furnish. Meanwhile, the Iroquois 
moved farther southward. McDowell overtook them and conducted them be- 
yond Sailing's, then the farthest pl.-intation. One Indian lame and fell 
behind, all but one of the militia passing him. This man fired upon the native 
as he went into the woods. The native then raised the war<ry, and the fight 
was on. The Indians at length gave way, took to the Blue Ridge, and followed 
it to the Potomac. Seventeen of them were killed, several others died on the 
retreat, and only ten-got home. Of the militia, the killed were eiglit or nine. 
Jacob .\nderson, diaries Hays, Joseph Lapsley, Solomon MofTett, and Richard 
Wooils were in the battle. 

Another and more trustworthy version is that which was unearthed by Mr. 


Charles E. Kemper from the colonial records of Pennsylvania and New York. 
This account states that Colonel Patton reached the battlefield three hours after 
the fight. He wrote that very day to the governor of Virginia, reciting the 
particulars and asking his intervention to avert a war. That official wrote 
to the governor of New York, inclosing Patton's letter. This letter recounts 
that the Indians had appeared in the settlements in a hostile manner, commit- 
ting the annoyances already spoken of ; that on coming up with them, McDowell 
and Buchanan sent forward a man with a signal of peace, upon whom the Indians 
fired, precipating a fight that lasted forty-five minutes. Eleven whites were 
killed and others wounded, and eight or ten Indians were killed. The governor of 
New York sent an agent to see the Iroquois, who claimed the Valley of Virginia 
by right of conquest. The Indians were restive and the authorities were appre- 
hensive of trouble. The governor of Pennsylvania undertook to act as medi- 
ator. An Indian who was in the fight told him his party consisted of thirty-two 
Onondagas and seven Oncidas. They were treated well while passing through 
Pennsylvania, but in Virginia they were given nothing to eat and had to kill a 
hog once in a while. As they went up the Valley they were several times 
interferred with by the whites, but avoided difficulties with them. They rested a 
day and two nights near the spot where the fight took place. On resuming 
their march, some of the militia, riding horseback, fired on two boys but did not 
hit them. The Indian leader told his men not to fire because of the white flag. 
But the whites fired again, killing two of the party. The chief then ordered 
an attack, and the Indians fought with tomahawks at close quarters. Two of 
their number were killed and five wounded. The whites were worsted, ten of 
them being killed. Ten of the Indians went up the river to the mountains, and 
were pursued to the Potomac, barely escaping with their lives. The mediator 
ruled that the whites were the aggressors, and by way of reparation Governor 
Gooch paid the Iroquois 100 pounds. The trouble was finally adjusted by the 
treary of Lancaster in 1744, the Iroquois then renouncing their claim to \'irginia. 
In a suit for slander brought by James AIcDowell against Benjamin Borden, 
Jr., and which was decided in favor of the defendant, there is an obscure allusion 
to the responsibility for the affair. According to McDowell, Borden applied 
these words to him, August 17, 1747: "Thou art a rogue and a murdering villain 
and I can prove it. * * * He is a murderer and brought the Indians upon 
the settlement." Thirteen claims for losses by the Indians were presented in the 
February court of 1746. Among the claimants were Isaac Anderson, Domick 
Berrall, Joseph Coakton, Henry Kirkham, Joseph Lapsley. John Mathews. 
Francis McCown, John Walker, James Walker, and Richard Woods. 

The following is the roster of John McDowell's company. Not all these 
men were in the battle : 


Alewn. John; ncaker. Hen; Campbell, Gilbert; Campbell. James; Cares, John; Coricr, 
John; Cunningham, Hugh: Cunningham. James; Drcdin, David; Finey, James; Finey, 
Xlichaet; Gray, John; Hall, William; Hardiman, James: Kirkham, Hen; Lapsley, Joseph; 

Long, ; Long, ; Mason, Loromer; Matthews, John; McCtewer, Alexander; 

McClewer, Holbert; McClcwer, John; McClure, Alexander; McChirc, Moses; McCowen, 
Fran; McDowell. Kphraim ; McDowell, James: McKnab. .-Vndrew ; McKnab, John; McKnab, 
Palt ; McKi>l>erls, S.iniiicl ; Miles, William; Mile^s. John: Miller, Michael: Moore. James; 
Patterson, Fdward : Patterson, Krwin ; Quail, Charles ; Kives, David ; Saley, John Peter ; 
Taylor, Thomas; Whiteside, Thonun \\"..<ii) Kl.hiin!- Wood, Samuel; Wood, William: 
Young, Robert; Young, Matthew. 

The French and Indian war broke out in 1754, and continued, so far as the 
Indians were concerned, until 1760. 1"he advance line of settlement had passed 
the Alleghany divide, and the greatest havoc was in tlie valleys along the frontier. 
A local cause for the outbreak was the outrage at Anderson's barn on Middle 
River. The date is not exactly known, but seems to be the month of June, 
1753, or possibly 1754. Twelve Indians were returning from a raid against 
the Qicrokees, and lodged with John Lewis near Staunton. Some men were 
present whose families or friends had sufTered some loss at the hands of the 
natives. A beef was killed and whiskey provided. The guests wore induced 
to stay till nightfall and give one of their dances. After they left they were 
followed in the darkness to Anderson's barn, where all but one were mur- 
dered. For this act of treachery in a time of at least nominal peace, a heavy 
toll of vengeance was exacted. The colonial government sought to punish the 
perpetrators, but the effort was ineffectual. One of the f.aults of the Ulstermcn 
was their propensity to make trouble with the "heathen." 

The Rockbridge area was by no means safe from attack, and there were 
several blockhouses for the protection of the people. William Patton mentions 
a stockade at Alexander McClary's, a mile and a half from his home, and says 
there were several others in the Horden grant. One of these must have been the 
Bell house, which is still standing and occupied. It is about two miles south of 
Raphinc and very near a branch. .Another was a log structure on Walker's 
Creek, used as a dwelling until a recent date. The floor was of walnut ptincheons. 
The roof, which was too steep to scale, fell in during the winter of 1917-18. 
In several other instances, the pioneer blockhouse still exists, with widened 
windows and some other alteration, or the logs have been tised in a building of 
later design. In all instances, the walls and doors were bullet-proof against the 
weapons of that age, the windows were too narrow for a man to crawl through, 
and there were loopholes in the walls. The loophole was cut in the shape of 
the letter X, so that a considerable breadth of vision miglit Ik commanded bv 
the guu pointed through the opening. A spring or other water supply was always 
within easy distance. In some instances the water was reached through a 


covered way, which was practically a narrow tunnel, high enough for a person 
to pass through. The Indian was unwilling to storm a blockhouse. The cost 
might be severe, and the defenders were comparatively safe from his bullets. 
So he endeavored to gain his end by stealth or strategem, and when he did make 
an attack it was usually by night. If he could set fire to the roof he did so. 

A council of war held at Staunton, May 20, 1756, mentions that "the greatest 
part of the able-bodied single men of this county is now on duty on our frontiers, 
and there must continue until they are relieved by forces from other parts." 
Sitting on this council were these captains: Joseph Culton, John Moor, Joseph 
Lapsley, Robert Bratton, James Mitchell, and Samuel Norwood. 

The only conspicuous raids belonging to this period were the occurrences 
in the Renick settlement and the first foray into the valley of Kerr's Creek. The 
latter will be spoken of in connection with the second. 

The date of the attack on the Renick house is July 25, 1757. A party of 
Shawnees, said to have been sixty in number but probably much fewer, came 
through Cartmill Gap to Purgatory Creek, where they killed Joseph Dennis 
and his child, and took prisoner his wife, Hannah. They also killed Thomas 
Perry. Then they went to the house of Robert Renick, where they captured 
Mrs. Renick, her four sons, and a daughter. The next blow was at Thomas 
Smith's, where they killed both Renick and Smith, and took away Mrs. Smith and 
her servant, Sally Jew. George Mathews, Audley Maxwell, and William Max- 
well,* who then were young men, were on their way to Smith's, and thought a 
shooting match was in progress. As soon as they saw the bodies of the two 
men, they wheeled their horses about, and the iour bullets fired at them at the 
same instant did no other harm than to wound Audley Maxwell slightly and 
take off the club of Mathews' queue. One party of the Indians started away 
with the prisoners and booty, and the others went to Cedar Creek. An alarm 
was given and the people of the neighborhood gathered at Paul's stockade near 
the site of Springfield. The women and children were left with a guard of 
six men, while George Mathews went in pursuit with a force of twenty-one 
men. He overtook and fought the enemy, but the night was wet and dark, 
and the foe got away. Next morning nine dead Indians were found on the 
battleground and were buried. Benjamin Smith, Thomas Maury, and a Mr. 
Jew were killed, and were buried in the meadow of Thomas Cross near Spring- 
field. Mrs. Renick was released a few years later. Her daughter died in cap- 
tivity, and her son Joshua became a chief of the Miamis. The other children 
returned with their mother. Mrs. Dennis was a woman of much resourcefulness 
and determination. She learned the Shawnee tongue, painted as the red men 
did, and because of her skill in treating illness she was given much liberty. She 

♦This name should probably be Paul instead of Maxwell. 


thereby found a chance to escape, crossed the Ohio on a driftwood log. and 
made her way back to licr frontier lionie. Tliis was in 1763. 

1 1 is very probable that several nunor raids took place, no clt-ar recollection 
of which has l)een handed on to the present day. An occurrence can easily 
be given a wrong setting by its being accidentally merged with some larger event. 
St)nietimes a single Indian would go on the warpath for himself, and when the 
party was very small only depredations on a small scale were likely to be com- 
mitted. There were instances where some white scoundrel would disguise 
himself as an Indian and perpetrate an outrage. Such may be the explanation 
of the tragedy at the home of John Mathews, Jr., the nature of which recalls 
the Pettigrew horror of 1846. Sampson Mathews made oath that his brother 
John, with his wife and their six children, were burned to death in their house. 
A neighbor named Charles Godfrey Milliron was arrested on suspicion and held 
for trial at the capital. We do not know the result, but Milliron seems to have 
been acquited. 

An incident which took place in Botetourt is worthy of meniion here. 
Robert Anderson and his son William — grandfather to William A. .Anderson of 
Lexington — went to a meadow to look after some livestock, and passed the 
night in a log shelter, the door of which could be strongly barred. Before morn- 
ing Mr. Anderson woke up and roused his son, telling him the animals were 
restless and that he feared Indians were near. Bear oil and cabin smoke gave 
the redskins an odor that was quickly noticed by domestic animals. \'oices were 
presently heard, and father and son held their weapons in readiness for an 
emergency. The prowlers tried the door, and seeing it did not readily yield, 
they used the pole as a battering ram, but without visible efTect. Much to the 
relief of the persons within they then desisted and went away. In the morning 
it was seen that another blow would have forced the door. 

The red terror threatened to depopulate the \'alley of Virginia and the 
settlenjenls beyond. Writing in 1756, the Reverend James Maury makes this 
observation: "Such numbers of people have lately transported themselves into 
the more Southerly governments as must appear incredible to any except such 
as have had an op|>ortunity of knowing it. By Bedford courthouse in one week, 
'lis said, and I believe, truly said, near 300 inhabitants of this Colony past on their 
way to Carolina. From all the upper counties, even those on this side of the 
Blue Hills, great numl)ers are daily following." 

What is known as the Tontiac war broke out very su<ldcnly in June, 1763, 
and continued more than a year. It was a concerted effort, on the part of a con- 
federacy of tribes, to sweep the whites out of the country beyond the AUc- 
gtianies. To a band of Shawnees was assigned the task of operating in the 
Rockbridge latitude. Their first blow completely destroyed the Greenbrier set- 


tlements, and their next attention was given to Jackson's River and the Cow- 
pasture. Thence a party crossed Mill and North mountains to devastate the 
valley of Kerr's Creek. 

There were two raids into this locality and there has been some doubt as to 
their chronological sequence. That one of them took place July 17, 1763, is evi- 
dent. There is agreement as to the day and month of the other event; October 
10th. Samuel Brown says the second raid occurred two years after the first, 
and he places it in 1765. In this he is followed doubtfully by Waddell in his 
Annals of Augusta. Mr. Brown wrote his account a long while ago, and 
when people were living whose knowledge of the massacres was very direct. 
Nevertheless, he is in error. His informants were confused in their recollection 
of dates. 

The record books of Augusta contain no hint of any Indian trouble in the 
fall of 1764 or 1765. A raid of serious proportions would have constituted a 
renewal of the Pontiac war, and further military events would be on record in 
frontier history. But in 1759 and 1760 the number of wills admitted to record, 
the number of settlements of estates, and the number of orphan children put 
under guardianship is deeply significant. However, our evidence is more con- 
clusive. In the suit of Thomas Gilmore against George \\'i!son, recorded Novem- 
ber 19, 1761, the plaintifT makes this declaration: "During the late war the 
Indians came to the plantation where plaintiff lived, and after killing his father 
and mother, robbed them and plaintiff of almost ever\thing they had. * * * 
Defendant and several others pursued the Indians several days and retook 
great part of the things belonging to the plaintiiT. The inhabitants of Car's Creek, 
the plaintiff not being one of them, offered to any persons that would go after 
the Indians and redeem the prisoners, they should have all plunder belonging 
to them." The records further tell us that John Gilmore was dead in 1759 and 
that Thomas Gilmore was his executor. We may therefore affirm that the 
earlier raid occurred October 10, 1759, and the later, July 17, 1763. 

We now proceed to relate the two occurrences, as the particulars have 
been given to us. 

With respect to the first there was a forewarning. Two Telford boys, 
returning from school, reported seeing a naked man near their path. Little serious 
thought seems to have been given to the matter. A few weeks later, twenty- 
seven Indians were counted from a blufT near the head of the creek. The war 
party first visited the home of Charles Dougherty and killed tlie whole family. 
The wife and a daughter of Jacob Cunningham were the next victims. The girl, 
ten years of age, was scalped, but made a partial recovery. Four Gilmores and 
five of the ten members of Robert Hamilton's family were afterward slain. 
The Indians did not go any farther. .Accounts differ as to whether any pris- 


oners were taken by them. They killed twelve persons, and according to one 
statement, thirteen were carried away. 

With his usual prom])tncss and cncrpy, Oiarlcs Ltwis, of tlie Cowpasture, 
took the lead in raising three companies of militia, one headed by himself, the 
others by John Dickenson and William Giristian. The Indians were overtaken 
near the head of Hack Creek in Highland County. It was decided to attack at 
three points. Two men sent in .idvancc were to fire if they found the enemy 
had taken alarm. They came upon two of the enemy, one leading a horse, 
the other holding a buck upon it. To avoid discovery the scouts fired and 
Christian's company charged with a yell. The other companies were not quite tip 
and the Indians escaped with little loss. However, they were overhauled on 
Straight Fork, four miles below the West Virginia line, their camp being re- 
vealed by their fire. All were killed except one, and the cook's hr.iins were scat- 
tered into his pot. Their carrying poles were seen here many years later, and 
ancient guns have been found. In the first engagement the loot was recovered, 
and it was sold for $1,200. 

On the second visitation the Indians were in greater force, and made their 
approach more cautiously. They concealed themselves a day or two at a spring 
near the head of Kerr's Creek. But moccasin tracks were noticed in a cornfield, 
and some men detected the camp from a hill. A rumor had come to the settle- 
ment that Indians were approaching, but there was little uneasiness. It is 
nearly certain that the savages first seen were an advance party, and that this 
was waiting for a rccnforcement. Another probable motive for delay in an 
attack was to scare the settlers intn gathering at some rendezvous, so that they 
might be fallen upon in a mass. If such was the purpose it was accomplished. 
The people flocked to the blockhouse of Jonathan Cunningham at Big Spring. 

Meanwhile the house of John McKee was attacke<l and Mrs. McKce was 
killed. There are differing accounts of this incident. According to Alexander 
Hane. Mr. McKee started with his wife and a dog to reach a wooded hill. Their 
children were at Timber Ridge. Because of her condition, Mrs. McKee was 
unable to walk f.T5t, and she insisted that her husband should go on and efTect 
his own escape. Before doing so, he hid her in a sinkhole filled with bushes 
and weeds, but the harking dog betrayed the place of concealment. After the 
redskins had gone on. she was taken to the house, where she soon died. This 
statement is challenged by the author of The McKees of Virqinia and Kentucky. 
He constnies it as a reflection on John McKre's courage .and his duty to his wife. 
He says that some of the settlers did not like this pioneer for his blunlness. and 
that they set afloat a garbled version of the facts. The author of the hook 
prefers lo l>rlieve that John McKee had gone to a neighbor's to look after some 
sick chiMrcn, and finding on his return th.Ti his wife was scalped, he took her 


to the house. Be this as it may, the murder could not have occurred in the 
first raid, as some statements affirm. The family Bible gives July 17, 1763, as 
the date of Mrs. McKee's death. 

We must now return to the assemblage at Big Spring. A number of the 
people of the valley were attending a meeting at Timber Ridge, the day being 
Sunday. Those gathered at Cunningham's were in a field, saddling their horses 
in great haste, in order to join their friends at the meeting house. The secreted 
foe seized the coveted moment to cut them off from the blockhouse. The 
scene which followed was witnessed by Mrs. Dale from a covert on a high 
point. When the alarm reached her she mounted a stallion colt that had never 
been ridden, but which proved as gentle as could be desired. The foe was gain- 
ing on her, and she dropped her baby into a field of rye. In some manner she 
afterwards eluded the pursuers, but was too late to reach the blockhouse. A 
relief party found the baby lying unhurt where it had been left. Such is the 
story, but it is more probable that the mother recovered the child herself after 
the raiders had gone away. 

While the saddling was going on two men started up the creek to reconnoiter. 
but were shot down, as were also two young men who went to their aid. The 
onslaught of the foe was immediate, and each redskin singled out his victim. 
Mrs. Dale said the massacre made her think of boys knocking down chickens 
with clubs. Some tried to hide in the big pond or in thickets of brush or weeds. 
All who attempted to resist were cut down. Cunningham himself was killed 
and his house was burned. There is no record that the Indians suffered any 

According to Samuel Brown, sixty to eighty persons were killed in the 
two Kerr's Creek raids, and twenty-five to thirty carried away. This is an 
overstatement. William Patton, who was at Big Spring the day after the 
massacre, helping to bury the dead, says these were seventeen in number. He 
adds that the burial party was attacked. Among the prisoners, according to 
Mr. Brown, were Mrs. Jenny Gilmore, her two daughters, and a son named 
John ; James, Betsy, Margaret, and Henry Cunningham ; and three Hamiltons, 
Archibald, Marian, and Mary. One of the Cunninghams was the girl scalped 
in the first raid. She returned from captivity and lived about forty years after- 
ward, but the wound finally developed into a cancerous affection. According 
to a rather sentimental sketch in one of the county papers, Mary Hamilton was 
among the killed, and John McCown, her lover, died two years later of a broken 
heart and was buried by her side at Big Spring. Mr. Waddcll says she had a 
baby in her arms when she was captured. She threw the infant into the 
weeds, and when she returned from the Indian country she found its bones 
where she had left it. 


Mention has been made of a meeting at TinilKT Ridge the day of the sec- 
ond massacre. A rumor of the attack reached the congregation at the noon 
recess, but little was thought of it, since similar alarms had often been given. 
But an express arrived when the second service was iK-ginning. There was 
immediate confusion and speedy flight. Some of the Kerr's Creek families sought 
safety in the Blue Ridge. 

On the afternoon of the second tragedy, the Indians returned to their camp 
on North Mountain, where they drank the whiskey found at Cunningham's still. 
They became too intoxicated to have put up a good resistance to an assault. 
Yet they had little to fear, as there was a general panic throughout the Rockbridge 
area. Next day two Indians went back, either to see if they were pursued or 
to look for more liquor. It seems to have been on this occasion when Mrs. Dale 
saw them shoot at a man who ventured to ride up the valley. When he wliecled 
they clapped their hands and shouted. This incident constituted the attack men- 
tioned by William Patton. During the march to the Shawnee towns, the Indians 
brained a fretful child and threw the baby on the shoulders of a young girl who 
was killed next day. At another time, the prisoners were made to pass under 
an infant pierced by a stake and held over them. On still another occasion, 
while some of the prisoners were drying a few leaves of the Xew Testament for 
the purpose of preserving them, a savage rushed up and threw them into the 
camp fire. When the column arrived at the Scioto, the captives were ironically 
called u[)f)n to sing a hymn. Mrs. Giinjore respoiuK-d by singing Psalm 137 as 
she had l)ecn wont to do at Timber Kidgc. It is related that she had stood over 
the corpse of her husband, fighting desperately and knocking a foeman down. 
Another Indian rushed up to tomahawk the woman, Imt his comrade said she was 
a good warrior, and made him .spare her. She and her son were redeemed, but 
she never knew what became of her daughters. Several other captives were also 

Some account of the massacres on Kerr's Creek was related many years 
afterward by Mrs. Jane Steven.son. She was then living in Kentucky, and her 
story was reduced to writing by John D. Shane, a minister. Mrs. Stevenson, 
who was born Noveml)er 15. 1750, speaks of a girl four months older than 
herself taken at the age of seven years and held until the lUiuciuet delivery in 
1764. The children had gone out with older companions to gather haws, and 
the narrator escaped capture only by not going so far as the others. .At the first 
raid an a»mt who haci two children escaped into the wihxIs, the Indians going 
down the river. But on the second occasion, this aunt and her three children were 
taken and an uncle and a cousin were killed. Two of the children die<l in cap- 
tivity, but the aunt and the third child were restored. In this second raid Mrs. 
Stcven.<ton thinks the Indians "had the ground all spied out," and followed a 



prearranged program. She says they "came in like racehorses," and in two 
hours killed or captured sixty-three persons. One of the prisoners was James 
Milligan. He escaped on Gauley Mountain and reported having counted 450 
captives, as the total collected in the entire raid. Two small boy-captives were 
James Woods and James McClung, and after their return they had the condi- 
tion of their ears recorded in the clerk's office at Staunton. Cropping the 
human ear was in those days a form of punishment, and the person who had 
an ear mutilated by accident or in a fight went before the county court to have 
the fact certified, so as not to be regarded as an ex-convict. 

Mrs. Stevenson was a daughter of James Gay, who lived seven miles from 
Kerr's Creek. Her mother, whose maiden name was Jean Warwick, was killed 
by the Indians about 1759. Mrs. Stevenson relates that the adult male mem- 
bers of the Providence congregation "carried their guns to meeting as regular as 
the congregation went." Alexander Crawford was killed about fifteen miles from 
the meeting house in the direction of Staunton. The narrator says that when 
"the Indians took Kerr's Creek settlement a second time they were greatly bad," 
and that it "almost seemed as though they would make their way to Williams- 
burg." They "shot the cows mightily with bows and arrows." She moved to 
Greenbrier in 1775, "where there was never a settlement of kinder people," 
these being "great for dancing and singing." But her statement that William 
Hamilton and Samuel McClung were the only Greenbrier settlers who were "not 
Dutch and half-Dutch," cannot be correct at all, unless true of the particular 
locality where these men settled. It is also to be remembered that she was not 
yet grown at the time of the doings on Kerr's Creek. As for Milligan. he must 
have been able to see more than double in order to count 450 prisoners led away 
by probably not more than one-fifth as many warriors. 

It is not known that the settlers on Kerr's Creek had themselves given cause 
to make their valley a special mark for Indian vengeance. The native venerated 
the home of his forefathers, and would make a long and perilous journey for 
no other purpose than to gaze upon a spot known to him only in boyhood or 
perhaps only by tradition. It may have been resentment, pure and simple, that 
led him to visit his fury upon the palefaces who had crowded him out of a 
choice portion of his hunting grounds. So it is not to be wondered at that 
the children attending Runkcr Hill schoolhouse near Big Spring had a super- 
stitious horror of the field where the massacre took place. 

The treaty which ended the Pontiac war stipulated that the Indians should 
return their white captives, and these were delivered to Colonel Bouquet in 
November, 1764. However, there were instances where the return did not 
take place until some time later. According to William Patton, the foray of 
1763 was the last that took place on Rockbridge soil. Yet in the Dunmore war. 


and in tlic hostilities that continued intermittently from 1777 lo 1795, there was 
always the possibility of still other incursions. The Indian peril was forever 
removed frf>ni RockbridRc by the treaty of Greenville, in 1795, which was secured 
by General Wayne's victory in the battle of the Fallen Timbers. 

Tlie Dunmore war of 1774 was caused by the extension of white settle- 
ment into the valley of the Ohio. It was waged l)ctween the \'irginia militia and 
a confederacy headed by the Shawnees. Rockbridge men served in the companies 
from Augusta and Botetourt, and heliit-d to gain the memorable victor)' of Point 

We find only unt- rrcordcd inst.ince wIrtc an Indian was held in slavcrv in 
Rockbridge. This was in 1777, and is mentioned in C"hapter \'II. 

It is said that several of the family names on Kerr's Creek were blotted out 
as a result of the scenes in 1759 and ]7C^^. The record-books for 1758-fiO indi- 
cate an exceptional mortality in the Rockbridge area. We append to this chap- 
ter some names that appear to belong to this region, but we do not know that 
violence was the cause of all the deaths indicated. 

Jacob Cunningham — will probated March 18. 1760. 

Isaac CunninKham— <licd 1760* — Jean, administrator. 

Hrnjaniin, orphan of John Gray — 1760. 

Samuel, orphan of Alexander McMurty, becomes ward of Matthew I.yle, 1759. 

James McGec — will probated .AnRust 20, 17S9 — Krwin Patterson, administrator. 

Robert kamsay — will probated November 21. 1759— Rol>ert Hall, administrator. 

Jamrt Rogcrj — died 1760*— Ann Rogers administratrix with Walter Smiley on her bond. 

James Stephenson — died 1760*. 

Thomas Thompson — died 1760.* 

John Winyard— will probated, Noveml>cr 15, 1758 -Barbara, executor. 

Samuel Wilson— <lied 1760*. 

James Young— died 1760. 

An episode made much note of in the pioneer history of Kentucky and 
Tennessee is the story of the "Long Hunters" of 1769-1772. Sotne writers 
throw doubt on the narrative, yet it seems founded on fact. From a con- 
cordance of the various accotints, it would appear that in June. 1769, a party of 
over twenty men, several of whom were from Rockbridge, started from Reedy 
Creek on an extended hunting trip in the valley of the Cumberland. They 
found a grassy prairie and plenty of game. No Itulians were foun<l living in 
that region, although there were numerous Indian graves. In June, 1770, 
several of the hunters returned, the others buiUling boats and floating down to 
Natchez on the Mississippi, where they sold their cargo. A portion of the 
party remained there and settled, the others returning by way of Georgia. In 
the fall of 1771, a party of twenty-two went out .ngain. .At five of these 

•The date ii that of record. The person may have died in 1759. 



were members of the first party. This second party was so successful that it 
could not take back all its pelts, and a portion was deposited in a "skin-house" 
in what is now Greene county, Kentucky. Ammunition ran low, and all but 
five returned the next February. One of the five fell ill, and a comrade took 
him to the settlements. Two of the remaining three of the camp guard were 
captured by Indians. The seventeen returned after about three months, and 
continued to hunt and explore, some of the names they gave to certain localities 
enduring to the present day. Late in the summer of 1772 their camp was plun- 
dered by Cherokees at a time when they were absent from it, but hunting con- 
tinued till the end of the season. The only names we can certainly identify as 
belonging to Rockbridge are those of Robert Crockett and James Graham, of 
the Calf pasture. Another member was James Knox, who lived at the mouth 
of the Bullpasture and finally settled in Kentucky. The claim is made with 
much show of reason that it was this James Knox, and not General Knox, of 
Washington's army, for whom Knoxville in Tennessee is named. Crockett, 
who lost his life during the first expedition, is said to have been the first white 
man killed in that state. The wives of Governor Bramlette and Senator J. C. S. 
Blackburn, of Kentuckv, were granddaughters of Graham. 


New Coi-NTiEs — Act of Assembly — The Cornstalk Affaiii — Asnals of 1778-1783 

The house that Jolin Lewis built near the site of Staunton in tlic summer 
of 1732 was not witliin the recognized limits of any county. Until 1744 the 
Blue Ridge was the treaty line between jjaleface and redskin. The first county 
organization to cross that barrier was Spotlsylvania, which iK-camc effective in 
1721. Yet it came only to the South Fork of the Shenandoah, one extremity 
of the line tuucliing liie river in the vicinity of Elkton, the other alK)ut midway 
between Front Koyal and Bentonville. Orange was created in 1734. and 
organized in 1735. It was defined as extending westward to the uttermost 
limit claimed by \'irginia. Four years later, the portion of Orange west of 
the Hlue Kidge was divided into the counties of Frederick and Augtista by a line 
running from the source of the Kapidan to the Fairfax Stone at the source of 
the North Hranch of the Potomac. The present boundary between Rockingham 
and Shenandoah is a portion of this line. 

During the westward march of population in X'irginia. the practical area 
of a county has always been co-cxtensivc with its settled portion. The fact that 
Augusta once extended potentially to the Mississippi, did not mean that a jury- 
man might have to travel hundreds of miles to attend court. When the first 
division of Augusta took place in 1769. probably not less than three-fourths of 
the inhabitants were living within a radius of fifty miles around Staunton. Of 
the other fourth, nearly all were within a few miles of a trail leading from 
Buchanan to Abingdon. 

The first county to be set ofT from .Vugusta was Botetourt, which Iwcaine 
cfTective January 31. 1770. The line separating it from the parent county is thus 
dcscriJx-d in a report by James Trimble, the surveyor: 

BcRtnninK at two Chestnuts and a Black Oak on the South Mountain by a SprinR of 
Pcaler Crcck rin Amherst Line and runninK thence 55 deRrees West 4 Mile* 240 Poles to a 
Spanish Oak marked AC on the one Side and BC on the Otlier Side where tlic South 
HivtT or Mary's Creek empties into the North Branch of James Kiver. and up the North 
River to Kerr's Crcck and up Kerr's Crcck to the Fork of the said Creek at Gilinore's Gap. 
Then bcRinning at a chestnut and three Chestnut Oaks and a Pine at the upper Fork of 
Kerr's Crcck and runneth the same Course to wit North 55 deurces West. Z3 and one- 
half miles. Crotsing the "Cowiiasture in Donally's Place at a I^fKe Poplar on the River 
marked AC and BC. 

The course In-pinning on liic tup of North Motmtain contitujcd to the 
Ohio, which it touched a little below I'arkersbtirg. It is an exact parallel In the 



present line between Rockbridge and Augusta. It does not appear that the sur- 
veying of this hne was ever carried beyond the summit of the Allleghany Divide. 
The cost of the survey by Trimble was $37.15. 

From this old boundary between Augusta and Botetourt, the airline distance 
to Fincastle does not vary much from thirty-five miles, and is slightly less than 
the distance to Staunton. To the people of the present Rockbridge area, the 
journey to a courthouse in 1777 was not excessively long. The need for a new 
county was very much less than in the case of Rockingham or Greenbrier, all 
three of these counties being authorized by the same Act of Assembly, which was 
passed at the October session of 1777. The sections relating to Rockbridge are 
these : 

Section Three. And be it further enacted, That the remaining portion of the s^id 
counties and parishes of Augusta and Botetourt be divided into three counties and parishes, 
as follows, to wit, by a line beginning on the top of Blue Ridge near Steele's mill, and run- 
ning thence north 55 degrees west, passing the said mill, and crossing the North Mountain 
to the top, and the mountain dividing the waters of the Calfpasture from the waters of the 
Cowpasture, and thence along the said mountain, crossing Panther's Gap, to the line that 
divides the counties of .Augusta and Botetourt, and that the remaining part of the county 
of Botetourt be divided, by a line beginning at Audley Paul's, running thence south, 55 
degrees east, crossing James River to the top of the Blue Ridge, thence along the same, 
crossing James River, to the beginning of the aforesaid line dividing .■\ugusta county, then 
beginning again at the said .'\udley Paul's, and running north 55 degrees west till the said 
course shall intersect a line to run south 45 degrees west, from the place where the above 
line dividing Augusta terminated. And all other parts of the said parishes of Augusta and 
Botetourt included within the said lines shall be called and known by the name of Rock- 

Section 4. (A court for Rockbridge, first Tuesday of every month, the first court to 
be held at the house of Samuel Wallace. The justices, or a majority of them, being present 
and duly sworn, shall fix on a place as near the center as the situation and convenience shall 
admit, and proceed to erect the necessary public buildings). 

Section 5. (Making it lawful for the governor with the advice of the Council to 
appoint the first sheriff.) 

Section 6. And be it further enacted, that at the place which shall be appointed for 
holding court in the said county of Rockbridge, there shall be laid off a town to be 
called Lexington, 1300 feet in length and 900 in width. And in order to make satisfaction 
to the proprietors of the said land, the clerk of the said county shall by order of the 
justices issue a writ directed to the sheriff conunanding him to summon twelve able and 
discreet freeholders to meet in the said land on a certain day, not under five nor more than 
ten days from the date, who shall upon oath value the said land, in so many parcels as there 
shall be separate owners, which valuation the said sheriff shall return, under the hands and 
seals of the said jurors, to the clerk's office, and the justices, at levying their first county 
levy, shall make provision for paying the said proprietors their respective portions thereof, 
and the property of the said land shall on the return of such valuation, become vested in 
the Justices and their successors, one acre thereof to be reserved for the use of said 
county, and the residue to be sold and conveyed by the said justices to any persons, and the 


money ariMng from such talc shall be applied towards lessening the county levy ; and the 
public buildings for the said county shall be erected on the lands rcscn-ed, as aforesaid. 

Section 7. (Relates to suits and petitions now depending. Dockets of such to be made 
out in Augusta and Botetourt.) 

Section 8. ( No appointment of clerk of the peace, nor of place for holding court, 
urless a majority of the justices be present.) 

(Another section dissolves the vestry of .\ugusta, and instructs the inhabitants of 
Augusta, Botetourt, Rockbridge, Rockingham, and Greenbrier to meet at places apix>inted 
by their sheriffs before May 1, 1778, to elect twelve able and discreet persons as a vestry 
for each county.)* 

Tlic boundaries of Rockbridge, as set forth in the above act, have since 
undergone but one change. In October, 1785, all the county west of the top of 
Camp Mountain was annexed to Botetourt. 

There is a belief that the killing of Cornstalk at Point Pleasant led to the 
establishment of Rockbridge. The pcipetrators of that deed were some of the 
Rockbridge militia, and as there was an attempt to punish them, the trial would 
have been at the county seat of Greenbrier. The erection of a new county would 
insure a trial among friends and not among strangers. But the killing of Corn- 
stalk took place November 11, 1777. It would have taken several weeks for the 
news to reach Williamsburg and for a movement to take shape in Rockbridge 
which would bear fruit in legislative action. Tlie act authorizing Rockbridge 
had been passed in October of the same year. 

Nevertheless, the event should have mention in this chapter. 

The Shawnees, "the Arabs of the New World," were a small but valiant 
tril)e dwelling on the lower Scioto. In mental ])ovvcr tliey stood much above the 
average level of the red race, and it was an ordinary occurrence for a member 
of the tribe to be able to converse in five or six languages, including English 
and French. According to the Indian standard, the Shawnees were generous 
livers, and their women were superior housekeepers. They were so conscious of 
their prowess that they held in contempt the warlike ability of other Indians. It 
was their boast that they caused the white people ten times as much loss as they 

At the time of which we write, the most eminent war-leader among the 
Shawnees was Cornstalk. It is not probable that he headed the band that struck 
Kerr's Creek in 1759, althovigh the warriors may have been of his people. We 
do know, however, that he was the leader in the terrible raid of 1763. Within 
a few days his band blotted out the settlements on the Greenbrier, won a 
victory over two companies of militia at I'alling Springs in Alleghany county, 

•The first vestry for Rockbridge included James Buchan,-in, Charles Camplwll, Samuel 
McDowell, John Gilmorc, John Lyic, Samuel Lyie, Major William Paxton, Alexander Stuart, 
and John Trimble 


raided the valleys of Jackson's River and t!ie Cowpaslure, and then crossed 
Mill Mountain to work still further havoc on Kerr's Creek. \Mth slight loss to 
themselves, they killed, wounded, or carried away probably more than 100 of 
the whites. At Point Pleasant, the Shawnees were the backbone of the Indian 
army, and Cornstalk was its general-in-chief. It was only because of loose dis- 
cipline in the camp that the Virginians were not taken by surprise. Technically, 
the battle was little else than a draw. Cornstalk effected an unmolested retreat 
across the Ohio, after inflicting a loss much heavier than his own. But his men 
were discouraged and gave up the campaign. Cornstalk was not in favor of the 
war, but was overruled by his tribe. During the short peace that followed, he 
from time to time returned to Fort Randolph at Point Pleasant horses and 
cattle that had been lost by the whites or stolen from them. 

In 1777 the Shawnees were again restless. They had been worked upon 
by British emissaries and white renegades. Cornstalk came with a Delaware and 
one other Indian and visited Fort Randolph under what was virtually a fiag 
of truce. He warned Captain Arbuckle, the commandant, of the feeling of the 
tribesmen. His mission was an effort to avert open hostilities. According to 
the Indian standard, Cornstalk was an honorable foe, and he knew he ran a 
risk in putting himself in the power of the whites. Arbuckle thought it proper 
to detain the Indians as hostages. One day, while Cornstalk was drawing a 
map on the floor of the blockhouse, to explain the geography of the country 
beyond the Scioto, his son Ellinipsico hallooed from the other bank of the Ohio 
and was taken across. Soon afterward, two men of Captain William McKee's 
company, a Gilmore and a Hamilton, went over the Kanawha to hunt for turkeys. 
Gilmore was killed by some lurking Indian, and his body was carried back. The 
spectacle made his comrades wild with rage. They raised the cry of, "Let us 
kill the Indians in the fort," and without taking a second thought they rushed 
to the door of the blockhouse. They would not listen to the remonstrances of 
Arbuckle, and threatened his life. When the door was forced open. Cornstalk 
stood erect before his executioners and fell dead, pierced by seven or eight balls. 
His son and his other companions were also put to death. The slain chieftain 
was about fifty years of age, large in figure, commanding in presence, and 
intellectual in countenance. Good contemporary judges declare that even Patrick 
Henry or Richard Henry Lee did not surpass Cornstalk in oratory. 

By the people of Kerr's Creek the raids into their valley were remembered 
with horror. Homes had been burned. Families had partially or wiiolly been 
blotted out. Women and children had been tomahawked and scalped. Friends 
and relatives had been carried away, and some of these had never returned. 
Even at the present day, the scenes of 1759 and 1763 are referred to with more 
impatience than is usually found along what was once the frontier. 


The Indian mctliod of making war was unquestionably cruel. The impulses 
of the native were those of the primitive man. Like the child, he was sometimes 
swept by gusts of passion. Deceit has ever been deemed legitimate in warfare 
The Indian played the game without restraint and was consistent. The white 
man assumes to conduct war according to rules suggested by Christian civiliza- 
tion and laid down in time of peace. But in time of war he does not live up to 
these rules. It had l>een little more than a century since Cromwell had carried 
fire and massacre from one end of Ireland to the other, and with a fury that 
would have made Cornstalk "sit up and take notice." It was within the memory 
of living men that the Highlanders of Scotland gave no quarter in their mur- 
derous clan fights. It seems instinctive for nations of the Baltic stock to hold 
the colored races in contempt. To the frontiersman of America, the Indian 
was not only a heathen but an inferior. The comparatively humane treatment 
to which he thought the French and the British were entitled, because of their 
color, he held himself justified in withholding from the redskin. The practical 
cfTect of this double standard was most unfortunate. It reacted with dire effect 
upon the white population. It was more often the white man than the Indian 
who was responsible for the cause of border trouble. 1 he Indian's version is 
much less familiar to us than our own. 

Despite his proclivity to tomahawk the woman as well as the man, the child 
as well as the adult, the Indian in his war-paint was a gentleman when com- 
pared with the German soldier in the present war. The latter, who professes 
to be a civilized man, wars against the very foundations of a civilization that 
the red man knew next to nothing of. The Indian kept his word. He respected 
bravery. The children he spared and adopted he loved, and not infrequently 
the adult captive was unwilling to return to his own color. Women were never 
violated by the Indians of the tribes cast of the Mississippi, and when a child 
was bom in captivity to the white female, the mother was looked after as though 
she were one of their own kind. 

The deed of Hall's men at Point Pleasant is a painful incident in Rockbridge 
history. It bore the same relation to open warfare, whether civilized or savage, 
that a lynching docs to a fair trial in a courtroom. There was nothing to show 
that Cornstalk had anything to do with the killing of Gilmore, or that the periK?- 
trator of that deed was a member of his tribe. Had Cornstalk l)een a British 
ofTiccr, his government would have pronounced his murder an inexcusable assassi- 
nation, and would have avenged it with the execution of some captive .\ineri- 
can officer. The plea, which is not confined to the book by Kcrchcval, that 
it was right for the frontiersman to l.iy aside the restraints of civilization when 
dealing with the Indian, would, if it had been used in the present war, l>een made 
a justification for matching German atrocity by allied atrocity. Even at Point 


Pleasant, where we might expect the feeling against the native to be acute, it 
was long considered that the town lay under a curse. So late as 1807 it had 
only a log courthouse, twenty-one small dwellings, and a few ague-plagued 
inhabitants. It now contains a monument to Cornstalk. 

Only a few years since, a contributor to one of the Lexington papers 
spoke rather harshly of Colonel Roosevelt for mentioning the killing of Corn- 
stalk as "one of the darkest stains on the checkered pages of frontier history." 
Roosevelt is no apologist for Indian cruelty. The writer was probably unaware 
of the fact that Patrick Henry, who was then governor of this state, denounced 
the deed in words that were much more vehement. He regarded it as a blot 
on the fair name of Virginia, and announced that so far as he was concerned, 
the perpetrators should be sought out and punished. But as will appear later 
in this chapter, his efforts were nullified by the friends of the persons responsible. 

A sequel to the episode deserves mention. In an attempt to avenge the death 
of their chieftain, the Shawnees besieged Fort Randolph in the spring of 1778. 
An Indian woman known among the whites as the Grenadier Squaw, and who 
was understood to be a sister to Cornstalk, had come to the fort with her 
horses and cattle. By going out of the stockade and overhearing the natives she 
was able to tell their plans to Captain McKee, then the commandant. McKee 
offered a furlough to any two men who would make speed to the Greenbrier 
and warn the people. John Insminger and John Logan undertook the perilous 
errand, and started out, but not seeing how they could get past the Indians, they 
returned the same evening. John Pryor and Philip Hammond then agreed to 
go. The Grenadier Squaw painted and otherwise disguised the men, so that 
they would look like Indians. The two messengers reached Donally's fort a 
few hours in advance of the Shawnees, and though a severe battle quickly fol- 
lowed, the foe was repulsed and the settlement was saved. 

We will let the order-book tell the story of the organization of Rockbridge 
and relate the local annals during the remaining years of the War for Inde- 

First court at the house of Samuel Wallace, April 7, 1778. Justices present: Archibald 
Alexander, John Bowyer, John Gilmore, Samuel Lyle, Samuel McDowell. Archibald 
Alexander qualified as sheriff, Andrew Reid as clerk, John Bowyer as county lieutenant, 
and John Gilmore as lieutenant-colonel. Sheriff's bond, 1000 pounds. Xext day James 
McDowell qualified as surveyor, and the following constables were appointed : Richard 
Williams in Captain James Hall's company ; Samuel Wilson in Captain Samuel Wallace's 
company; Robert Robertson in Captain John Paxton's company; Robert Paris in Captain 
John Lyle's company; William Dryden in Captain David Gray's company; Isaac Anderson 
in Captain .Me.xander Stuart's company; William McCampbell in Captain John Gilmore's 
old company. John Ward was also made a constable. 

Moses Collier was continued as road surveyor from John Thompson's to David 


New road »urvc>or$ appointed: Andrew Taylor, (rom North River to Stuart's More; 
Captain John Taylor, from Stuart's old store to Colonel Samuel McDowell's ; John McCIung, 
from said McDowell's to the forks of the road at John McClung's; Andrew Moore, from 
taid forks to the county line; James Gilmore, from Buffalo Creek to his own house; 
Charles Campbell, from Robert Kirkpalrick's to the county line; lluKh Barclay, Sr., from 
said Gilmore's to the county line; Samuel McCampbcll, from head of Kerr's Creek to 
Andrew McCampbcll's; William McKemy, from .-Vndrew McCampbcll's to ford on North 
River; Alexander Tedford. from Robert Kirkpatrick's to North River; Alexander Willson, 
from Captain Charles Campbell's to Hugh Weir's; Samuel Caruthers, from BufTalo 
Creek to the forks of the road above James Gilmore's. 

Captain John Lyle. John Lylc. Henry McClung. and James l.yle, or any three of them, 
to view a way from Rol>crt Kirkpatrick's, by way of .Mexandcr Stuart's merchant mill, to 
Stuart's store. 

.April 9. — Survey of the town site ordered given in at next sitting. 

April 18. — Called court to examine Captain James Hall, bound in recognisance fur 
felony, the si)ecific charge being the murder of Cornstalk. Hall did not appear. 

April 28. — Hall ap|>cared, there were no witnesses for the commonwealth, and he was 
acquitted. Hugh Galbraith bound in recognisance on the same charge. 

May 5. — No witnesses appeared against Galbraith and he was acquitted. 

Thomas N'ancc appointed road surveyor from the great road below William Sprowl's 
to the other great road near James Thompson's. 

Grand jury: David Gray (foreman), Jo.-seph Moore, Thomas Wilson. William Porter, 
Alexander Tedford. David McClure, Samuel McCorkle. William Walker, David McCroskcy, 
James Patton, Hugh Weir, Doctor Patrick Vance, Andrew Hall, Samuel Paxlon. 

Citizens ap|>ointed to lake the lists of tithables: Captain John Gilmore, for his own and 
John Paxton's companies; John Trimble, gentleman, for the companies of William Paxton, 
Samuel Wallace, and James Hall; Samuel Lyle, gentleman, for the companies of John Lyle 
and David Gray; .Mexandcr Stuart, gentleman, for the Calf|>asture and for the companies of 
Samuel Steele and James Gilmore; Charles Campbell, gentleman, for his own company and 
Andrew Moore's. 

Rates to be observed by keepers of ordinaries : 

"Hot "diett" with small beer 3 shillings 

Cold "diet!" with no beer 2 shillings 

Stahlage and hay or fodder for twenty-four hours 2 shillings 

Good lasturage for twenty-four hours 1 shilling 8 pence per hor>e 

1 shilling 3 pence per cow 

Lodging with feather bed and clean sheets 1 shilling 

Lodging with chafT bed and clean sheets 6 pence 

Corn j)er gallon . 1 shilling 3 pence 

Oats i>er gallon 1 shilling 

Samuel Wallace granted ordinary license. 

kfay 14.— Mary, wife of John Walker, found guilty of uttering words sustaining the 
authority of king and parliament. Damage (Knally of fifteen and one-half |>ounds and costs. 

May 19. — Malcolm McCown l>oiind on the same charge as in the case of Captain Hall, 
and with the same result, 

July 7.— Malcolm McCown acquitted on the charge of raising an alarm on Kerr's 

Mary and Richard, orphans of William Bull, ordered bound. 

John Kirkialnck granted ordinary license. 



Joseph Moore, William Paxtoii, and John Gilmore, Jr., qualify as justices, John Trimble 
as coroner, Harry Innis as attorney, and William Stuart as constable. William Rowan 
bound as implicated in the murder of Cornstalk, but with the same result as in the other 

August 5.— Samuel Lyle, John Lyle, and Alexander Stuart instructed to let a contract 
for a courthouse, the specifications being as follows: twenty feet long, sixteen wide, and ten 
in pitch; well-framed, and weatherboarded with feather-edged ilaiik; roof of lap shingles: 
house well floored above and below with pine or oak plank one and one-half inches t'lick; 
two plain wooden doors; fwo wmdows of twelve lights each, and shutters; iron hinges for 
both doors and windows; house set two feet above the ground on good oak blocks; at one 
end of the room a convenient bench for the magistrates to sit on; other benches for jury 
and lawyers ; a seat and a table for the clerk ; the house to be finished in a workmanlike man- 
ner by November 1st. 

September 1. — John Houston qualifies as justice. 

November 3. — John Gay qualifies as justice. 

Ordinary license granted to William Alexander and Alexander Stuart. 

Presented for selling liquor without license: William Alexander, William Montgomery, 
John Lyle, Mary Greenlee, John McClung, John Paul, James Thompson, Jane Lakin, William 

November 14.— Christopher Meath and Hannah, his wife, acquitted of stealing some 
linen cloth, but thirty lashes on the bare back were ordered for each of the other parties 
called up. 

February 13, 1779.— A charge against Catharine Coster of stealing goods worth $110 in 
specie was not fully proved, but the circumstances appearing against her, she was ordered 
to be given twenty-five lashes on the bare back at the public whipping post and then dis- 

March 2.— Michael Bowyer, Esq., qualifies as attorney. 

^farch 3. — William McKee qualifies as justice. 

April 6. — James Buchanan qualifies as justice. 

April 7. — Plan for the new courthouse ordered approved and contract let. 

Bastardy charge by M C against W J made good. 

June 2. — John Lyle qualifies as justice. 

July 6. — John Greenlee qualifies as justice. 

August 3.^John Bowyer, gentleman, qualifies as escheator. 

Smith Williamson, Richard Williamson, and Henry Black, having served in Colonel 
William Byrd's regiment — in French and Indian war — were each given an order for fifty 
acres of the public land. 

Robert Edniondson and Abraham Gasden qualify as assessors. 

October 5.— John Trimble, Esq., qualifies as assessor. 

Isaac Campbell given ordinary license. 

Josiah East, who served in Colonel Washington's regiment, given an order for fifty 
acres of public land ; the same to Richard Walker, a private in Captain John McNeil's 
Grenadiers. William Alexander, a non-commissioned officer of the Second Virginia under 
Colonel Byrd, given an order for 200 acres. 

James Grigsby and William Brown given ordinary license. 

John Bowyer qualifies as sheriflf and William McDowell as his deputy. 

December 7. — Levy, 2376 pounds, 8 shillings, 6 pence ($7921.42). 

Poll tax, $7.00. 

March 9, 1780.— Tavern rates: hot dinner, $10; hot breakfast, $8; cold diet, $7; lodging. 


with feather bed, $2; lodging, with chaff bed, $1 ; corn or oats, per gallon, 44 cents; whiskey, 
per gallon, $80. (These sums were in depreciated |>a|>er money). 

Samuel Wallace allowed $40 for twenty-eight days »i>ent in making roads. 

May 2.— Samuel Jack presented for saying, "God damn the army to hell." 

June 6.— Isaac Campbell, jailor, ordered to be i>aid $1179 George Kelly allowed $70 
for making a table for the clerk and sundry rejairs on the courthouse. 

June 6. — Lashes, "well laid on," to the number of twenty-five, were ordered to be 
administered to Elizabeth Berry. 

John Tcmplcton and Robert Ewiiig granted tavern license. 

December 5. — Samuel McDowell, sheriff, protests against the insufficiency of the jail. 

Tavern rates: hot dinner, $15; hot brcakfact, $12; cold diet, $10; lodging, with feather 
bed, $<>; lodging, with chaff bed, $2; pasturage for twenty-four hours, $4; corn or oats, per 
gallon, $6. 

Joseph Walker qualifies as justice. 

Jonathan Whitley bound in his own recognisance on a charge of disloyalty. 

George Campbell excused from further payment of county levy. 

March 7, 1781.— Tavern rates; hot dinner, $20; hot breakfast, $15; cold diet, $12; rum, 
(icr gallon, $200; whiskey, i>er gallon, $60; all good wines, ]>er gallon, $160. 

July J. — .\rchibald Stuart qualifies as attorney, Samuel Wallace as lieutenant -colonel, 
and William McKee as sheriff. Sheriff's bond, $5000. 

Samuel Lyie and John Carulhcrs apjxiinted commissioners of the specific tax. 

October 2. — James Gilmore given tavern license. 

November 6. — Captain John Bowyer presented for preventing men from going on 
militia tour when lawfully called. 

Samuel Todd, gentleman, allowed $90.42 in s|>ecie and two per cent, of the tax for 
collecting the s|>ecific tax, the rent of storehouses, and finding barrels and packing them 
with flour. 

December 4. — Roger McCormick, servant to Robert Campbell, presented for speaking 
disloyal words. No witnesses. Remanded to jail and soon discharged. 

January 1, 1782. — View ordered from Samuel Carter's near the county line to Mc- 

April 3. — Tavern rates: hot dinner, one and one-fourth shilling; hot breakfast, one 
shilling; cold diet, one shilling; corn or oats, per gallon, six pence; lodging, with feather 
bed, seven and one-half pence; lodging, with chaff bed, four pence; wine, per gallon, fifteen 
shillings; cider, per gallon, one and one-fourth shilling. 

May 4. — Samuel Todd ijualifies as justice. 

October 1.— Rol>crt Eastham ordered to pay John Ramsay, for one day as witness for 
Andrew Ramsay and eighty miles travel, 185 pounds of tobacco. 

November 5.— James Bailey presented for saying that "the sending of the eighteen 
months men was the doing of the damn'd Congress." 

November 8.— Tithables, 1I4S. Poll tax, sixteen (lounds of tobacco. Levy 18,320 pounds 
of tobacco ($610.70). 

Tavern rates: hot dinner, twenty-live cents; hot breakfast, twenty-two cents; cold diet, 
seventeen cents. 

January 7, 1783. — Adam, the mulatto bastard of Catharine E , ordered to be bound 


May 6. — William Gray, living near Barclay's mill, presented for "driving his wagon on 
the Sabbath Day," and Israel C i>re»rnted for having two wives. 

November 2.— For stealing fodder, Henry Navils ordered to be given twenty lashes. 



The Pastures — Early Settlement — The Patton and Lewis Survey — Pioneer 

History — Emigration 

Geographically distinct from the rest of Rockbridge, and not properly a part 
of the Valley of Virginia, is the section of the county west of North Mountain 
and above the lower Goshen Pass. In the very dawn of settlement it became 
known as the Calf pasture, or simply as "the Pastures," because it already com- 
prised a large area of open ground. Its leading watercourses were first known 
as "the Great River of the Calf pasture" and "the Little River of the Calfpas- 
ture." It will thus be seen that the valley named the streams and not the 
streams the valley. In what manner the names Calfpasture, Cowpasture, and 
Bullpasture came into existence is not clearly known. The Cowpasture was 
first known as Clover Creek and the Bullpasture as Newfoundland Creek. 

Great and Little rivers head in Augusta and Mill Creek in Bath. But the 
larger and more important share of the Calfpasture basin lies in this county, and 
with respect to the pioneer families it will be treated as a whole. In the timbered 
and sparsely peopled valley of Bratton's Run is the resort of Rockbridge Alum 
Springs. At the mouth of Mill Creek is the town of Goshen. A little above 
is Panther Gap, utilized by the first railroad to cross the Alleghanics in this 
latitude. On Great and Little rivers is a considerable area of low-lying land, 
somewhat thin, but otherwise well suited to agriculture. 

Why this section of the Pastures should have been included in Rockbridge is 
not at this day very obvious. It was doubtless the work of influential men. 
We do know that some of the inhabitants did not like being placed in this 
county. We also know that when the people of the Bath area began moving 
for a new county in 1777, they wished the Calfpasture to be a part of it. 
The people of the Pastures seem to have been about evenly divided on that 

The author of Annals of Augusta asserts that the Calfpasture was settled 
about as early as the country around Staunton, yet offers no evidence in 
support of this claim. The records of the parent county, especially the muster 
rolls of 1742, do not indicate such early settlement. From another source we 
learn that the first settler was Alexander Dunlap, who came in \7A?t. He was 
accompanied by his wife, four children, and an indentured servant, Abraham 
Mushaw. At this date there was no settler any farther west. Dunlap's cabin 
stood near the spot now occupied by the Alleghany Inn. 


Next year, James I'atton and John Lewis, acting under an order of council, 
surveyed a tract nearly fifteen miles long, but nowhere more than about one 
and one-eighth miles broad. Their niap sliows it cross-sectioned into twenty- 
three lots. The lower end of the grant included the site of the town of Goshen. 
The upper end extended rather to the north of Deerfield. With a single ex- 
ception every lot had been entered by some settler. From this circumstance we 
may infer that these other people came almost as soon as Dunlap. 

The following tabular statement shows consecutively the nunjbcr of the lot, 
the name of the settler, the acreage, the purchase-price — when stated in the 
deed — and the early transfers of title. When the deed was issued to a successor 
of the original settler, such other name is given in brackets. 

Names of consorts are also thus shown : 

1. Alexander Dunlap (John Dunlap)— 625 — $68.69—295 acres sold Robert Dunlap, 

1761, for $33333. 

2. William Jameson— 170— $20.87. 

3. Thomas Gilliam— 168— $18.86— sold. 1752. by Thomas (MarRarct) Gilham to James 
LoclcridKc for same price — resold. 1767, by John Dickenson to William Thompson for $200. 

4. Robert Crockett — 370— $41.15 — sold, 1760, by pioneer's sons — J-imes (Martha) and 
Robert. Jr., (Janet), both of Mecklenburg county, North Carolina — to William Thompson 
for $200—295 acres sold by Thompson, 1767, (or $166.67. 

5. David Davis — 290— $29— sold. 1749, by P.-ilton and Lewis to John Po.iguc. 

6. Thomas Weems— 525— $31.10— sold. 1768, by Thomas (Eleanor) Wccms to William 
Given for $723J3. 

7. Henry Gay— 694— $33.39— 100 acres sold, 1769, to James Fraiier (or $33J3, 

8. Francis Donclly— 266— $30.02. 

9. Robert Gay— 519— $57.89. 

10. Samuel Hodge— M9— $47.97. 

11. John Miller->316— $70.08— sold by John t .Ann) Miller to John Kams.-»y. 1757. 

12 I>oflus Pullin— 252 <240?)— $2«j.92— sold to James Shaw, 1760. (or $3(V-sold by 
Shaw to John Ramsay, 1" -150. 

13. KolKrt Hrallon .7 — WO acres sold to James Bralton, 1771. for $133..33. 

14. James I-ockridge- 280- f— sold by James (Isabella) Lockridge to .^ndrew Lock- 
ridge (son), 1764. (or $66.67. 

15. John Graham— 696— $79 58— 150 acres sold to James Graham (son). 1768, for 

16. Robert Gwin— 544— ?— sold by William (Agnes) Gwin to Robert Lockridge, 1766, 
for $575. 

17. John Preston— 1054— $31.15— 520 acres sold by William (Susanna) Preston to Mary 
Prr«ton, 1762, for $333.33. The same sold by Mary Preston to Rolierl Lockridge. 1763. for 
$V/, f.7. 

18 William Warwick-r-106— $118 67— sold, 1745, to John Kincaid 

19 James Carlile— 600— $^.S. 19—250 acres sold, 1753. to John Carlile. and sold by Inni. 

1762, to Thomas lliighart for $166.67—200 acres sold by John (Mary) Carlisle to Thomas 
Adams, 1796, for $39167. 

20. Jacob Clements— 457— $51.67— 202 acres sold, 1751. by Jacob (Mary) Clements to 


John Campbell for $66.67, and sold by John (Ann) Campbell, 1768, to James Carlisle for 

21. John Campbell— 308— $34.17— 208 acres sold by Samuel Campbell to William Lock- 
ridge, 1769, for $713.33. 

22. James Carter— 300— $33.38— sold to Robert Gay, 1768. 

23. John Wilson— 600— $66. 

Other patents in the Calf pasture, prior to 1770, are these: acreage, date, 
and description being given consecutively : 

Adams, Thomas— (1) 190— 1769— Bratton's Rmi. (2) 235- 1769— Calfpasture, 

Beverly, William— 700— 1743— head of Great River. 

Bratton, James— 90— 1769— Bratton's Run. 

Campbell, John and Samuel — 100 — 1761 — branch of Great River. 

Crockett, Margaret and Andrew — (1) 48 — 1749 — David Mill place on Calfpasture. 
(2) 44 — 1749 — adjoining James Poague. 

Dunlap, John — 125 — 1760 — Dunlap Creek (Bratton's Run). 

Dunlap, Alexander — 90 — 1769 — Calfpasture above Jameson. 

Jameson, William — 80 — 1755 — east side Great River. 

Kincaid, Andrew — 45 — 1769 — Calfpasture above Tinker. 

Lockridge, Andrew — 22 — 1755 — branch of Great River. 

McKittrick, Robert— 110— 1759— branch of Great River. 

Patton, James and John Lewis — 600 — 1743 — Elk Creek of Calfpasture. 

Still Other early settlers were the Armstrongs, Blacks, Blairs, Clarks, Craigs, 
Elliotts, Fultons, Hamiltons, Hendersons, Johnstons, McConnells, McCutchens, 
McKnights, Meeks, Mateers, Moores, Risks, Smiths, Stevensons, Walkups, and 

Alexander Dunlap, a man of some means, was appointed a captain of horse 
in 1743, but died the following year. He was succeeded in this position by Wil- 
liam Jameson. Thomas Gilham qualified as captain of foot in 1752, and James 
Lockridge and Robert Bratton in 1755. James Lockridge and \\'illiam Jameson 
are named as members of the first county court of Augusta in 1745. The latter 
acted as a justice in 1747, but it is not known whether Lockridge qualified. 

According to a statement by a daughter of James Gay, the pioneer, there 
was a stockade on the Calfpasture during the French and Indian war. 

The first mill seems to have been that of James Carter. It was probably 
built about 1745. Some ten years later, Andrew Lockridge had a gristmill. 

Charles Knight is mentioned as a schoolmaster in 1755. He was to have 
$60.00 a year, every half Saturday or every other Saturday to be free time. In 
case of an Indian alarm he was to enjoy the privilege of being lodged in the 
settlement. But it is not probable that he was the first teacher. 

Rocky Spring Church was built on an acre deeded by Andrew Kincaid, 
1773, to the "trustees of a congregation of dissenters." These trustees were 
James Bratton, Lancelot Graham, .Andrew Hamilton, Thomas Hughart, William 
Kincaid, and Andrew Lockridge. Lebanon Chinch was organized in 1784 at 


the home of William Hodge. The first ciders were William Youell, Alexander 
Craig, John Montgomery, John McCutchen, Joseph McCutchen, and Samuel 
McCutchen. The first meeting house stood close to the Augusta line, the second 
a half-mile to the south and in Rockbridge. As a consequence there are two 
cemeteries. The will of John Dunlap. written in 1804, provides a sum to build a 
gallcrj- for the negro worshippers. John Montgomery, for a while a teacher in 
Liberty Hall .Academy, was the first minister. John S. McCutchen was a suc- 
cessor. But the first congregation on the Calf pasture was that of Little River. 
The "meeting house land" is mentioned in deeds alxiut 1754. John Hindman 
preached in the vicinity as early as 1745. 

Partly as a result of its only moderate fertility, the Calfpasture has been a 
great fountain-head of emigration to newer localities, especially Kentucky and 
Tennessee. Some of the pioneer names have thus been nearly or quite ex- 
tinguished. Not a few of the men who went from the Calfpasture, or their 
descendants, have achieved some renown in Western history. 

Major Samuel Stevenson, who had lately moved to the Greenbrier, headed in 
1776 an expedition to the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. He was accompanied 
by James Gay, William Elliott, and Benjamin Blackburn. William Campbell, 
a wheelwright, was picked up as the party went through the wilderness. One of 
the mcmlxTS said "Blackburn was so stifT with fear we could hardly get him 
along." In the spring of 1784, Stevenson settled in \\\>odford county, the 
"Asparagus Bed" of the Bluegrass State. He was preceded a few weeks by 
Alexander Dunlap, Jr.. and James Gay. Jr. The wives of Stevenson .nnd Dunlap 
were sisters to Gay. who was a son of James Gay and his wife, Jean Warwick. 
Pisgah Oiurch, said to be the first Presbyterian organization in Kentucky, was 
founded the same year. Its first minister was .Adam Rankin, who came from 
Rockbridge. Pisgah .Xcadeiny, founded by Gay, Dunlap. and Stevenson, de- 
veloped into Transylvania University, as Liberty Hall .\cademy developed into 
Washington and Lee University. The region around was settled almost wholly 
from RtKkbridge and its neighboring counties. The following names, from the 
membcr.ship of Pisgah Giurch in 1808-1826. will Ik- recognized as occurring in 
the pioneer annals of Rockbridge: Aiken, .Mexander. .Mien, Brown. Campbell. 
Carr, Dunlap. Elliott, Gay, Hamilton. Holnian. Kinkead. Kirkhani. Logan. Long. 
Martin. McClung. McClure. McCullotigh, Mcl'hceters, Renick. Ritchie. Smith. 
Steele, and Taylor. 

We close this chapter with special mention of several of the Calfpasture 

The Bears sprang from Blastus Baer. a Mennoniic who came from Germany 
in 1740 and settled in Page county in 176.V Jacob, a son. married a daughter 
of ., M. iitionitc minister and came to the Calfp.isture in 1788. Their sect was 


but slightly represented here, and the Bears attached themselves to other 

Robert Bratton, who married the widow of Alexander Dunlap, Sr., was 
one of four brothers. Samuel remained in Mifflin county, Pennsylvania ; James, 
who married Dorothy Fleming, settled near Christiansburg. Three sons of 
another brother, went to South Carolina. Captain Robert Bratton was a man 
of wealth and distinction. 

Archibald Clendennin lived in this valley before moving to the lower Cow- 
pasture, where he died in 1749. Archibald, Jr., was the most conspicuous victim 
in the Greenbrier massacre of 1763. Charles, another son, gave his name to 
the capital of West Virginia. 

Captain James Coursey came from Orange and married as his second wife 
the widow of Robert Dunlap. A great grandson is Major O. W. Coursey, of 
South Dakota, a soldier, educator, and historian. 

Robert Crockett, son of the pioneer of that name, was one of the "Long 
Hunters" spoken of in Chapter VIII. The eccentric Davy Crockett, of Tennessee 
and Texas history, was of another family, although in his youth he worked for 
a German farmer in this county. 

Samuel Ebbcrd came from Maryland. 

Captain Thomas Gilham had seven sons and two sons-in-law in the armies 
of the Revolution. The family moved first to South Carolina, but afterwards to 
the north of Illinois. 

John Graham and his family experienced a great storm during their voyage 
from Ulster. John appears to have been a brother-in-law to William Elliott 
and John Armstrong of the Calfpasture. Elliott was born in 1699. William 
and Graham was a brother to John. Christopher Graham, who died in 1748, 
was probably the father of Robert Graham of the Bullpasture, and the wife of 
Joseph Walkup. 

John Hepler came from Pennsylvania. 

Daniel Hite — otherwise Hight — was a son of Daniel Heydt, a German 
who settled in the Luray valley. 

William Jameson was commissioned coroner in 1753, and seems to have 
died the same year. A grandson of the same name owned valuable property 
on the border of the city of St. Louis. Timothy Flint, the historian, calls one of 
his daughters a "rose of the prairie," and says of the Jameson family, "a group 
of more beautiful children I have never known." 

The pioneer Lockridges were the brothers, James, Robert, and William. 
William lived first in the Borden grant. The descendants are most nunterous 
in the West. Colonel John Lockridge was a pioneer of Sangamon county, Illinois. 
Another Colonel Lockridge figures in early Texas history. Andrew Y. Lock- 

90 A HISTORY OK kockdhiix:e county. VIKCIN'IA 

ridgt. a grandson of Major Andrew IxKkridgc. son of jaincs, was a noted mis- 
sionary to the Qicrokcc Indians. 

Five brothers of tlic name of McCulchen came to this part of Virginia. 
Rol)ert settled on I.ittic River. SamntI in the Borden grant, and William. James, 
and John in Ikvirly Manor. James diet! in 1759, and his sons. James. John, and 
Patrick went to Washington county. The descendants of the five pioneers arc 
nnmerous, widely scattered, and inchide persons of mark. One of these is Robert 
IJarr McCutchcn, a distinguished writer. 

The McConnclls, who founded Mctonnell's Station, now Lexington, Ken- 
tuckT, previously lived on Kerr's Creek, as well as the Calfpasture. 

Moses Mcllvain located in this valley in 1763. While prospecting in the 
Bluegrass region of Kentucky, in 1779, he was captured by Indians, but was 
released at the intercession of a trader by the name of McCormick. who had 
known Mcllvain in Ireland. Mcllvain married Margaret, a daughter of Samuel 
Hodge, of the Calfpasture, and settled anew in WcKxlford county. Kentucky. 

Timothy McKnight came from Ulster. His son John, merchant of St. I>ouis 
and trader to Santa I'e, was a heavy owner of realty in and near the Missouri 
metropolis. Rolnrrt, another son. settled in Chihuahua. Mexico, as a merchant 
and mine owner, and married a Spanish lady. Thomas settled in Iowa and 
was the first candidate for governor of that state on the Whig ticket. James 
remained on the Calfpasture, but his son John joined his uncle at Giihuahua and 
became a wealthy merchant. Rebecca, a daughter, married William McCutchen, 
anfl the wife of William W. Ruckcr, Congressman from Missouri, is a great- 

Five Walkups. James, Joseph, John, Margaret, and the wife of John 
Graham, Jr., were brothers and sisters and came to Little River about 1748. 
Captain James moved to the Waxhaw settlement. North Carolina. 1755. where he 
was a large |)lantcr and slaveholder. Sanuiel M., a grandson, was an antiquarian 
of that state. Joseph, son of John, was a lieutenant-governor of California, 
and is said to have refused an election to the senate of the L'nite<l States. 
For several decades there was nnich confusion in the spelling of the family sur- 
name. Professor Wauchope, a distinguished literary critic t)f the South, has 
returned to the orthodox .Scotch orthoprajjliy. The appropriateness of doing 
so is very much open to ({uestion. The form Walktip is free from strange- 
ness, and to the American car is the closest possible approximation to the 
Scottish pronunciation. The phonographic value of the word Wauchope is 
unmistakable in Scotland, but not in .America. In this connection it may be 
remarked that those German families who in years past modified the spelling 
of their surnames pursued a wise course. It was a practical step in .\nicrican- 


William Warwick had four children. Jean and Martha were killed by the 
Indians about 1759. John settled in Kentucky in 1784. Jacob was an extensive 
owner of realty and livestock in Pocahontas. The widow of William Warwick 
married Andrew Sitlington of Bath. 

J. Fulton ^^'hitlock, otherwise Tarleton Whitlock, came from the cast of 

William Youell settled on the Calfpasture about 1771. 



CAi-sts or THE War— The Fincastle and Accusta Resolctions — Visginia in the Rwolv- 
Tios — Campaign of 1781 — Svnd«v Phases of the Coxtest — Pcnsionejis 

The underlying cause of the American Revolution was "similar to that whi>"h 
forced our country into her present struggle with Gennany. It was a protest 
against autocracy. The American colonies were founded when the relations 
between the king and his people had not reached a settled basis. It had always 
been the English practice for the people of each community to manage their local 
affairs. This principle was followed by the immigrants who peopled the colonies. 
Trouble began during the conflict between king and Parliament in the time of 
Cromwell. It assumed serious dimensions during the reign of James 11 ( 1685-8), 
but did not become acute until the accession of George III in 1760. For several 
decades before the iK-ginning of the outflow from Ulster, few people had been 
coming to the colonies. The Americans of 1725 had begun to feel that they 
were already a people distinct from the English. During the quarrel that began 
with the ending of the Old French war. the colonies held that they were a f<art of 
the British Empire. But the British government viewed them a-^ hrliiiiniii.i to it, 
and consequently as possessing rights of a lower grade. 

To the colonials the person of the monarch was the visible tie that joined 
them to the British Empire. By a legal fiction the king was an impersonation of 
the state, and only in this sense did they consider that they owed any allegiance 
to him. The Americans understood Britain to be made up of king. Parliament, 
and commons ; each American colony to Im? made up of governor — a representa- 
tive of the crown — legislature, and people. Under .Xnne and the first an<l second 
Georges, the monarch was a mere figure-head. The actual government was in 
the hands of a corrupt oligarchy. George I was a Grrman. and could speak no 
English, except when he swore at his troopers. George III l)egan his reign 
with German ideas of divine right and absolutism, and these he determined to 
carry into practice. Local self-government had declined markedly in England. 
It was only a few persons who enjoyed the elective franchise. Parliament 
was not representative of the people, and by open bribery the king was able to 
control legislation The general mass of the English people were at this time 
ignorant, brutal, and besotted, and they wire apathetic toward their political 
rights. There was a higher level of intelligence in America than in England. 

Under kingcraft, as interpreted by George III, the people were to ol>ey the 
crown and p.iy taxes. Functions of a ptiblic nature were held to inhere in the 


sovereign. Activities were to start from above, not from below. The Americans 
contended that the central government could properly act only in matters con- 
cerning the empire as a whole. They did not concede that Parliament had any 
right to tax any English-speaking commonwealth that had its own law-making 
body. On the one side of the ocean there was a rising spirit of democracy. On 
the other, there was an ebbing tide, and a "divine-right" monarch was in the 
saddle. A clash was inevitable. 

To the Americans there were several particular sources of annoyance. It 
was an anomaly for any other person than an American to be the governor of 
an American colony. But in the crown colonies, of which Virginia was one, 
the governor was an imported functionary, and on retiring from office he usually 
went back to Britain. As a rule he was a needy politician, did not mingle socially 
with the Americans, and in his official letters he was nearly always abusing 
them. Another annoyance was the Board of Trade, a bureau which under- 
took to exercise a general oversight in America. It cared little for good local 
government. It sought to discourage any industry which might cause a leak in 
the purse of the British tradesman. Its one dominant aim was to see that the 
colonies were meek and to render them a source of profit to the British people 
and the British treasury. 

Even after the controversy had become one of bullets instead of words, the 
prevailing sentiment in America was not in favor of political separation. The 
colonials felt a pride in their British origin. They recognized that a union 
founded on justice was to the advantage of every member of the British Empire. 
At the outset, the Americans fought for the rights which they held to be com- 
mon to all Englishmen. In this particular they had the good will of a large 
section of the people of England. It was the autocratic attitude of the king 
that made separation unavoidable. 

American independence was proposed and accomplished by a political party 
known in Revolutionary history as the Whig. It was opposed by a reactionary 
party known as the Tory. But in the Whig party itself was a conservative as 
well as a progressive wing. The former consented to a separation, but other- 
wise it wanted things to remain as they were. The progressives had a further 
aim. They were bent on establishing a form of government that was truly demo- 
cratic* The progressives prevailed, and yet the work they cut out was only 
well under way when independence was acknowledged. "The Revolution began 
in \'irginia with the rights of .America and ended with the rights of man."f 

The basic origin of the Revolution was political. In the Southern colonies 

♦This term is not to be construed in a partisan sense. When the present poHtical party 
of that name is mentoined in tliis book it is with a capital letter. 


there was not an economic cause also, as was the case in New England. The ex- 
ports from \'irginia touched liigh water mark in 1775. in spite of the long 
quarrel between the governor and the people. 

We have entered into a rather extended discussion of a topic that belongs 
more to national than to county history. Yet the interest in the issue was so 
keen in the Scotch-Irish settlers that our explanation of it may not seem out 
of place. The Ulster people were naturally more democratic than the linglish. 
and nowhere in America was the democratic feeling more pronounced than along 
the inland frontier. The Scotch-Irish element generally rallied to the support 
of the Whig party, and was a most powerful factor in its ultimate success. The 
Tory influence was strong in the well-to-do classes along the seaboard, particularly 
among men in ofTicial and conmicrcial life. X'irginia was somewhat e.xceptional 
in this regard. It was practically without any urban population. The planter 
aristocracy upheld the Whig cause, and as it was the ruling class, it carried the 
colony with it. It must be added, however, that the planters of Tidewater cast 
their lot with the conservative wing of the party. It was under the lead of such 
men as Jefferson and Madison, residents of Middle Virginia, that the state 
capital was taken away from the tidewater district in 1779. The progressive 
Whigs cast of the Blue Ridge found a strong ally in the population west of 
that mountain. 

The resolutions adopted at Fort Chiswell, the county seat of Fincastle, were 
so closely in harmony with the views of the people in the Rockbridge area that we 
present them in this chapter. The address by the Committee of freeholders 
is signed January 20, 1775, and is directed to the Continental Congress. The 
chairman was William Giristian. Other ])rominent menibers of the committee 
were William Preston and Arthur Campbell. Of the fifteen men. all were officers 
except the Reverend Charles Cumings. 

We atfure you and all our countrymen that we are a people whose hearts overflow with 
love and duly to our lawful sovereign, George III, whose illuslrious Huusc, for several 
iucccstive reigns, have Ikcii the guardian of the civil and religious rights and hhcrlics 
of British sulijccts as settled at the glorious rcvohition (of 1688); that we are wilhiig 
to risk our lives in the service of His M.ijcsty for the snp|>ort of the I'rote>tant religion, 
and Ihe rights and lil)crties of his suhjects, as they have iKen eslabhshcd by cum|iact. law. 
and ancient charters. We arc heartily grieved at the differences which now subsist be- 
tween Ihe parent state and the colonies, and most heartily wish lo sec harmony restored on 
an er|uilable basis, and by the most lenient measures that can be devised by the heart of 
man. Many of us and our forefathers left our native land, considering it as a kingdom 
tubjected to inordinate iKiwcr and greatly abridged of its liberties: we crossed the .Atlantic 
and cxplured this then uncultivated wilderness, JKtrdcring on many nations of savages, 
and surrounded by mountains almost inaccessible to any but those very savages, who have 
incessantly l>ecn committing barbarities and depredations on us since our first seating the 
country. Those fatigues and ravages wc patiently encounter, supported by the pirasing 
hope of enjoying those right* and liberties which had been granted to I'irnifiiont. and were 


denied us in our native country, and of transmitting them inviolate to our posterity; but 
even to these remote regions the hand of unHmited and unconstitutional power hath pur- 
sued us to strip us of that liberty and property, with which God, nature, and the rights 
of humanity have vested us. We are ready and willing to contribute all in our power for 
the support of his Majesty's government, if applied to constitutionally, and when the grants 
are made to our representatives, but cannot think of submitting our liberty or property 
to the power of a venal British parliament, or to the will of a corrupt British ministry. 
We by no means desire to shake ofif our duty or allegiance to our lawful sovereign, but 
on the contrary, shall ever glory in being the lawful subjects of a Protestant prince, de- 
scended from such illustrious progenitors, so long as we can enjoy the free exercise of our 
religion as Protestant subjects, and our liberties and properties as British subjects. 

But if no pacific measures shall be proposed or adopted by Great Britain, and our 
enemies will attempt to dragoon us out of those inestimable privileges, which we are 
entitled to as subjects, and reduce us to slavery, we declare that we are deliberately and 
resolutely determined never to surrender them to any power upon earth but at the expense 
of our lives. 

These are our real though unpolished sentiments, of Hberty and loyalty, and in them 
we are resolved to live and die. 

The opening lines of the address do not make the impression now that they 
were intended to make in 1775. The portraiture of George III is the direct oppo- 
site of that given in the Declaration of Independence. The latter document cen- 
sures only the king, while the address vents its indignation on the king's ministry 
and on Parliament. But the committee appear to draw a distinction between the 
king as a man and the king as a sovereign. In the former respect, George III 
was a very mediocre person, obstinate and narrow-minded. In the latter respect 
he was an impersonation of the state, and to the state every patriotic citizen 
owes allegiance. 

Thomas Lewis and Samuel McDowell were delegates to the Virginia Con- 
vention of March, 1775. The instructions given to them by Augusta county, 
February 22, contain the following sentences: 

We have a respect for the parent state, which respect is founded on religion, on law, 
and the genuine principles of the constitution. * * ♦ These rights we are fully resolved, 
with our lives and fortunes, inviolably to preserve ; nor will we surrender such inestimable 
blessings, the purchase of toil and danger, to any ministry, to any parliament, or any body of 
men upon earth, by whom we are not represented, and in whose decisions, therefore, we have 
no voice. » * * And as we are detenuined to maintain unimpaired that liberty which is 
the gift of Heaven to the subject of Britain's empire, we will most cordially join our coun- 
trymen in such measures as may be deemed wise and necessary to secure and perpetuate 
the ancient, just, and legal rights of this colony and all British America. 

A memorial from the committee of Augusta, presented to the state conven- 
tion May 16, 1775, is mentioned in the journal of that body as "representing the 
necessity of making a confederacy of the United States, the most perfect, inde- 
pendent, and lasting, and of framing an equal, free, and liberal government, that 
may bear the trial of all future ages." This memorial is pronounced by Hugh 


Blair Grigsby the first expression of the policy of establishing an independent stale 
government and jxTinanent confederation of states which the parliamentary 
journals of America contain. The men who could draw up papers like these were 
not the ones to stand back from sending, as they did, 137 barrels of flour to 
Boston for the relief of the jM^oplc of that city in 1774. A savage act of Parlia- 
ment had closed their port to commerce. 

Even during the Indian war of 1774 there were very strained relations be- 
tween the House of Burgesses and the Tory governor. In the spring of 1775, 
the administration of Dunmore was virtually at an end, and the Committee of 
Safety was managing the government of the state. 

With respect to \'irginia soil there were three stages in the war for American 
Independence. The first was confined to the counties on the Chesapeake, con- 
tinued but a few months, and closed with the expulsion of Uunmore soon after 
his burning of Norfolk on New Years day, 1776. The invasion by Arnold began 
at the very close of 1780, and ended with the surrender of Cornwallis in Octol)er, 
1781. The warfare with the Indians continued intermittently from the sununer 
of 1776 until after the treaty with England in 1783. Except in the southwest of 
the state, the red men rarely came cast of the .Mleghany Divide. The British did 
not come across the Blue Ridge, and only once did they threaten to do so. Con- 
sequently the Rockbridge area did not itself become a theatre of war. 

Nevertheless, Rockbridge took an active part in the Revolution. At the out- 
set of hostilities Augusta agreed to raise four companies of minute men, a 
total of 200 soldiers. William Lyie, Jr., was the lieutenant of the Rockbridge 
company, and William Moore was its ensign. We do not know the name of the 
captain, but the colonel was George Mathews, a native of Rockbridge. As the 
commander of the Ninth Virginia Regiment in the Continental service, Mathews 
distinguished himself in Washington's army until he and his 400 "tall Virginians" 
were outflanked during the fog that settled on the field of Germantown and 
compelled to surrender. I'robably a number of Rockbri<lgc men were in this 
regiment, but we have no positive information. (We do not know of the men 
then living in the county, or who subsequently settled therein, there were some 
who enlisted in other Continental regiments.) It was in the militia organizations, 
and then only for two or three months at a time that most of the Rockbridge sol- 
diers saw military duty. 

Probably the first active service on the p.iri of men of this county was in 
the summer of 1776, when the militia under Captain John I.yle and Captain 
Gilmore marched under Colonel William Christian in his expedition against the 
Oieriikecs. Me was gone five months, an<l accomplished his purpose without 
actual fighting, although five towns were destroyed. The companies of John 
Paxton and Charles Campbell were in the column of 700 men that reached Point 


Pleasant in November, 1777. Major Samuel McDowell was a line officer in this 
force, and his men began their march from the mouth of Kerr's Creek. General 
Hand was to march against the towns on the Scioto. But deciding that it was too 
late in the season and that provisions were too low, that leader contented himself 
with announcing the surrender of Burgoyne and then dismissing the militia, who 
reached home late in the next month. Next spring, Captain William McKee was 
in command at Point Pleasant. It was another Rockbridge company, under the 
command of Captain David Gray, that marched to the relief of Donally's fort 
when the news came that it was attacked by the Shawnees. Captain William 
Lyle also campaigned on the frontier. 

The British invasion of 1781 was a more serious menace. But it is necessary 
to preface our account of it with a glance at the fighting south of Virginia. 
After the battle of Monmouth in the summer of 1778, the British leaders made 
no seriotis demonstration against Washington's army, and their fleet made them 
quite safe at New York, which was almost the only ground they held in the 
North. The war in this quarter was a stalemate, and the British turned their 
attention to Georgia and the Carolinas. In these colonies the Tories were as 
numerous as the Whigs. Savannah was taken and then Charleston. After the 
second disaster there was no field army to contend with the enemy, and South 
Carolina and Georgia were overrun. While General Lincoln was besieged in 
Charleston, the Seventh Regiment of \'irginia Continentals under Colonel Buford 
were on their way to reenforce him. But they were surprised at Waxhaw, no 
quarter was given, and they were cut down by the dragoons of Colonel Tarlcton. 
After dusk some of the troopers, who were generally Tories, returned to the 
scene of the massacre, and where they found signs of life, they bayonetted the 
hacked and maimed. Captain Adam Wallace was among the slain. Several 
other Rockbridge men were either killed or wounded. The inhuman cruelty 
shown on this and other occasions by Tarleton made him an object of bitter 
hatred. He thought German methods of warfare the proper ones to use against 
the Americans, and the resentment he did so much to arouse was not entirely 
extinguished at the outbreak of the war of 1917. 

A few months later a new American army, advancing from the north, was 
overthrown at Camden. At the close of 1780. when the fortunes of the Americans 
in the South were at a low ebb. General Greene, a leader of signal ability, was 
given command in all the colonies south of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But 
the wreck of the army defeated at Camden was small, half-naked, and poorly 
equipped. The British and Tories were in much superior numbers and did not 
lack for clothing and munitions. Nevertheless, there was a turn in the tide. 
At the Cowpens, the right wing of the American army nearly destroyed a force 
under Tarleton, and 600 prisoners were sent to X'irginia. Greene made a mas- 


tcrly retreat across North Carolina, closely pursued by Cornwallis, the British 
ccimniandcr-in-chief in the South. After Greene crossed the Dan. Cornwallis 
gave up a chase that was bringing him no result, and fell liack to Ilillsboro, then 
the capital of North Carolina. Greene was joined by large nunil>ers of militia, 
until his army was 4400 strong, but only one of his little regiments was of seas- 
oned troops, and the militia organizations were an uncertain reliance. The force 
under Cornwallis was only half as numerous, yet his men were veterans, well- 
equipped and well offtcered. Greene recrossed the Dan and took position at 
Guilford, where he was attacked by the British. March 15th. Cornwallis held 
the battleground, but one-third of his army was put out of action by the .\mcrican 
rifles. He could neither follow up his nominal advantage nor remain in North 
Carolina. He made a rapid retreat to Wilmington, pursued a part of the way 
by Greene, who then advanced into South Carolina. Cornwallis dared not follow 
his antagonist, and led his shattered army to Virginia. In four months Greene 
nearly freed South Carolina and Georgia from the enemy, except as to the sea- 
ports of Charleston and Savannah. 

Rockbridge men under Captain James Gilmore helped to win the brilliant 
victory at the Cowpens. Their time had nearly expired, and they were used to 
escort the captured redcoats to their prison camp. In this tight Ensign John 
McCorkle was wounded in the wrist and died of lockjaw, fiut Gilmore seems 
also to have been present at Guilford, where soldiers from Rockbridge were much 
more numerously represented. In this battle. Major Alexander Stuart was 
wounded and captured, and Captains John Tate and .\ndrew Wallace were killed. 
Among the other officers were Major Samuel McDowell, Captain James Bratton, 
and Captain James Buchanan. Tate's cf)iniiany was com|)o,<ed almost wholly of 
students from Liberty Hall. They actjuitted themselves so well as to extort a 
compliment from Cornwallis. After the action he asked particularly almut "the 
reln-ls who took position in an orchard and fought so furiously." Sanjuel 
Houston, then a youth of nineteen, kept a diary while his company was on its 
tour. James W'addell, the preacher who was so noted for his eloquence, ad- 
dressed the command at Steele's Tavern, the place of rendezvous. The company 
left Lexington January 26th, joined Greene's army live days lx;fore the battle 
of Guilford, and got home March 23rd. Houston fired nineteen rounds cluring 
the engagement. The men had orders to take trees and several would get behind 
the same tree. The redcoats were repulsed again and again. At Guilford, as at 
the C ow|K-ns, the conduct of the N'irginia militia was exceptionally gmxl. Greene 
said if he could have known how well they would act, he could have won a com- 
plete victory. In that case the battle of Guilford might have deci<led the cam- 

Meanwhile the traitor Arnold had landed 1600 men at Westover on the 


James. Two days later — January 5th — he burned Richmond. Finding his flank 
threatened from the direction of Petersburg, he retreated to Portsmouth, where 
he was closely watched by a small army under Steuben and Muhlenburg. 
Colonel Bowyer had a regiment under Muhlenburg, the clergyman-general. The 
company of Captain Andrew Moore marched from its rendezvous at Red House, 
January 10, 1781. 

Virginia had been stripped of her trained soldiers, and Washington sent 
Lafayette to take command. The young Frenchman arrived in March with 1200 
light infantry. To offset this help, General Phillips left New York with two regi- 
ments and occupied Manchester, April 30th. The British much outnumbered 
the Americans, but were not aggressive. Phillips died of fever at Petersburg, 
and Arnold was again in chief command. When Cornwallis arrived he brought 
the British army to a strength of 7000 men. Having no use for Arnold, he sent 
him away. The odds against the Americans were now serious. Late in May, 
Cornwallis moved from Richmond to gain the rear of Lafayette's army. He 
wrote that the boy could not escape him. Yet the boy did escape him, although 
he was pursued nearly to the Rapidan. Cornwallis then sent out marauding ex- 
peditions under Tarleton and Simcoe, while his main army moved upon Orange. 
Lafayette, reenforced by 800 veterans under General Wayne, recrossed the 
Rapidan. Cornwallis thought he would cut him off, but Lafayette opened an 
old road and marched by night to Mechum's River, where, with his back to the 
Blue Ridge, he made a stand to protect his stores. The British leader did not 
try to force a decision, and fell back to the Peninsula below Richmond. Tarleton 
had burned Charlottesville, then a very small place, and the Assembly fled from 
it to Staunton, where it sat from June 7th to the 24th. Tarleton made a threat 
of coming over the Blue Ridge. The legislators fled from Staunton so precipi- 
tately as to take no measures to defend the place. But the militia assembled 
in force, their ranks swelled by old men as well as boys, and meant to give Tarle- 
ton a hot reception, in case he should attempt to force Rockfish Gap. But as 
Tarleton had only 250 men, his threat could have been no more than a blulT. 

Lafayette, gradually reenforced by the Virginia militia to the number of 
3,000, followed the British. Washington came down from the Hudson with 
2,000 of his American troops and 5,000 Frenchmen. The sequel is familiar 
to every reader of American history. Previous to the siege of Yorktown, the 
two small battles of Hot Water and Green Spring, fought near Williamsburg, 
were the only engagements in the Virginia campaign that rose above the dignity 
of mere skirmishes. But during his almost unobstructed march, Cornwallis in- 
flicted a loss of $10,000,000 in looting and burning, and the kidnapping of slaves. 

Not only did the Valley men have to contend with the British east of tiie 
Blue Ridge and the Indians west of the Alleghany, but in the spring of 1781 they 
had also to watch the Tories in Montgomery. The latter were threatening to 


seize the lead mines near Fort Gnswcll, and then join Cornwallis. when, as was 
expected, he would follow Greene into Virginia. 

Among the men from this county who tunKtl out to light the invader in 
1781 were companies under Colonel John Howycr and captains Andrew Moore, 
Samuel Wallace, John Cunningham, William Moore, David Gray. James Buch- 
anan, and Giarles Campbell. Captain William Moore heljjed to guard the pris- 
oners during their march fmni Yorktown to the detention camp at Winchester. 

There was little active disloyalty in Rockbridge. Archibald .Mexander says 
there were few Tories, and he intimates that these found it advisable to seek a 
change of climate. One was John Lyon, who had been a servant to Alexander's 
father. He deserted to the British, and was one of the miscreants who bayoneted 
the hacked and helpless men on the field of Waxhaw, although he still had enough 
humanity to spare the life of John Rcardon. Lyon was killed at Guilford. Tory 
Hollow, near the head of Purgatory Creek, derives its name from the Tories 
who fled into it and were not molested. Doubtless they were wise enough not to 
make their plight needlessly severe. There is another Tory Hollow between Col- 
lier's and Kerr's creeks, and it may take its name from the Tory branch of the 
Cunningham family. Robert Cunningham, a son of John of Kerr's Creek, became 
a brigadier-general in the British army in South Carolina. His conduct made him 
so odious that his estate was confiscated, and although he petitioned to be granted 
to return, he had to spend the rest of his life under the Union Jack. He was 
granted an annuity by the British government. His brother Patrick, although a 
colonel in the British army, was not exiled from South Carolina. 

But there was discontent, and there was sometimes a disinclination to per- 
form military service. It is related of Edward Graham that he found the militia 
assembled near Mount Pleasant about 1778, quite unwilling to volunteer instead 
of l)cing drafted. Special inducements were offered, but without visible result. 
Graham addressed the men to induce them to supply the quota with volunteers. 
Captain John Lyle .and a few others step])cd forwar<l. and inarched and counter- 
marched liefore the militia, but without effect. Gr.aham then joined the volunteer 
squad himself, and was followed by enough of the unwilling crowd to make out 
the numl)cr desired. Like some other persons, this minister did not think well 
of the headlong flight of the legislators from Sl.iunton. He was on his way 
home from attending a presbytery, and at once set alxjut raising a force of respect- 
able size, acting as its leader. 

Tlic most serious disaffection seems to have taken |)Iacc in Mav, 1781. It 
grew out of an Act of Assembly of Octolier, 1780. whereby the counties were to 
be laid off into districts for the pur|)ose of procuring a quota from each to serve 
in the Continental line for eighteen months. A petition was sent to the capital 
from Rockbridge, representing that an absence from home for that length of 
time meant ruin to the family of the soldier. Districts had been laid off in this 


county, and in two or three instances the quota had been procured. Jefferson, 
then governor of the state, pursued a vacillating course and hesitated to enforce 
the conscription law. Then he wrote a letter taking off the suspension, but by 
that time the day appointed for the draft had gone by. A date was set for another 
laying off of the districts. A hundred people gathered at the county seat. May 
9th. Hearing that the Augusta people had prevented such action in their county, 
and seeing Colonel Bowyer getting lists from the captains, a crowd went into 
the courtroom and carried out the tables. The men said they would serve 
three months at a time in the militia and make up the eighteen months in that 
manner, but would not be drafted as regulars for the term mentioned in the 
law. After tearing up the papers the crowd dispersed. 

Virginia was prosperous when the Revolution broke out, but there was mucli 
distress during the war. Trade with England came necessarily to an end, and 
was carried on with France at great risk. Specie was scarce, and there was a 
tendency to keep it hidden. The currency issued by the Continental Congress to 
pay its war claims rested on a very insecure basis, and Henry Ruffner relates 
that it operated as a tax because of its rapid depreciation. In March, 1780, the 
ratio of paper to specie was forty to one, and in May, 1781, it was 500 to one. 
Tjixes were high and hard to meet, and the collecting of them was an unpleasant 
official duty. Almost everything was taxed, even the windows in a house. A 
petition of 1779 complains not only of the high assessment, but says that a still 
greater grievance is the separate taxing of houses, orchards, and fencing, these 
items aggregating more than the land itself. It was made legal for taxes to be 
paid in certain kinds of farm produce. This form was called the specific tax, and 
it required storehouses for the produce levied upon. 

The return of the specific tax for April, 1782, mentions 3423/2 bushels of 
wheat, 1,282 pounds of bacon, and $12.58 in specie, turned in by 702 tithables. 
There were 338 tithables in arrears for 165 bushels of wheat and 676 pounds of 
bacon. Samuel Lyle and John Wilson, the commissioners, were allowed ten per 
cent, for their services. A petition of 1784 says there is little or no hard money, 
and that the number of horses and cattle had been niucli reduced during the war. 
The only merchantable staple was hemp, and this had fallen in price very much. 

Under the Federal pension law of 1832, the applicant was required to make 
his declaration before the county court, and his reminiscences are often of interest 
and value. The declarations below are by men who were living in Rockbridge 
in the year indicated. Only a synopsis is given here. A less abbreviated account 
— of more service to genealogists — may be found in McAllister's Data on the 
Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary War. 

Ailstock, Absalom: born a free imilatto about 1795. Marched from Louisa about 
December 1, 1780, it being rumored tliat the British were going to land on the VirRinia coast, 
and was out four weeks. About .April 1, 1781, joined the Second Regiment under Colonel 
Richardson. The ruins of the tobacco warehouses in Manchester could be seen from the 


Rirhmnnd side. The brigade was stationed a while at Malvern Hills. The enemy were in 

'f coming this far up the James in boats, each with a Riin at either end. the pur- 

, .: plunder. Two such boats and seventeen men were taken by the refjiment. During 

the siege of Yorktown the applicant dug intrenchments for batteries and made sand baskets. 

Cunningham, John: Born in Pennsylvania in 1756. Served in that state in 1776, 1777, 
and 1781. 

Davidson. John : Born in Rockbridge, 1757. He was willing to go out in the spring of 
1778, Iteing then unmarried, but induced hy his mother to hire a substitute. In the 
summer of that year, as a drafted man, he served in Greenbrier. Under Captain William 
Lylc he drove {lackhorses loaded with flour and bacon to the troops on the frontier. In 
January, 1781, he marched from Red House, his company commanders being Captain 
Andrew Moore, Lieutenant John McClung, and Rnsign James McDowell. .\l Great Bridge, 
near Korfolk, two twelve pounder howitzers and about twelve prisoners were captured. 
There was another skirmish near Gum Bridge, near the Dismal Swamp. He went out 
again, August 7, 1781, under Captain David Gray, who tried to induce him to be orderly 
sergeant. At Jamestown the militia were ferried across the James by the French, who 
were 5.500 strong on the north side. 

Ivast. James: Born in Goochland, 1753. In 1779 he was guarding Hessian prisoners at 
Charlottesville. Left Fluvanna county, 1792. 

Fix, Philip: Born near Reading, Pennsylvania, about 1754. Was living in Loudoun 
county, 1777, and served that year in his native state. 

Harrison, James: Bom in Culi)eper, 1755. In the fall of 1777 he served under Captain 
John Paxton, marching to Point Pleasant by way of Fort Donally. He witnessed the death 
of Cornstalk, Red Hawk, Petalla, and Kllinipsico. He re.iched home shortly before Christ- 
mas. In 1781 he was engaged six months in .\niherst, his duty being to patrol the county 
twice a week to thwart any effort by the Tories to stir up disaffection among the negroes. 

Hickman. Adam: Bom in Germany. 1762. and came to .\merica five years later. Served 
under Captain James Hall in 1780. That company and Captain Gray's marched about 
October 1, and was absent three months around Richmond and Petersburg. He went out 
again in May. 1781. and the Apjiomattox at Petersburg was crossed on a flaiboat. the bridge 
Ii.iving been burned by the enemy. He was in the battle of Hot Water. June 28th. 

Hight, George: Born in King and Queen, 1755 Was in Christian's expedition against 
the Cherokces. In August. 1777. he enlisted in Rockbridge for the war, serving in Colonel 
George Baylor's Light Dragoons. In October, he joined the regiment at Fredericksburg, 
and the following winter was at Valley Forge. The troop to which he belonged was em- 
ployed in preventing the people of that region from furnishing supplies to the enemy, and in 
watching the movements of the latter. He was in the battle of Monmouth. Next Septem- 
ber, at a time when the regiment was asleep in barns on the Hudson, it was »uri)riscd by 
Grt.pral Grey, and no quarter was given except to the members of his own troop. He and 
;.: -:lirr man escai>ed by getting in among the enemy. In the spring of 1779 the regiment 
was recruited, and Colonel William Washington took command. It was again employed, 
this time in New Jersey, in watching the enemy and preventing trading with him. Near the 
close of 1780 the regiment marched to Charleston. 5>outh Carolina. Shortly after his ar- 
rival In March. Washington defeated Tarleton, taking sixteen prisoners, but a while Liter 
was himself defeated at .Monk's Comer. The horses were saddled and bridled, but there was 
I ^tne to mount them. Applicant was taken prisoner and was exchanged at Jamestown in 
• t iM, 1781. 

Ilinkle, Henry Born in Pennsylvania, 1750. Served three tours in the militia of Fred- 
erick county. 1779-1781. 

Krlso. James: Born on Walker's Creek. 1761. Drafted. January. 1781. into Captain 
Jaroe» BiKhanao'i company of Colonel Bowyer's regiment, and was in skirmishes near 


Portsmouth. When Tarleton made his raid on Charlottesville, he volunteered and served 
one month. In September he was at the siege of Yorktown, under Captain Charles Camp- 
bell, and after that event he was detailed to guard the prisoners to Winchester. 

Mason, John : Born in Pennsylvania, 1740. Was in the battle of Brandywine, serving in 
a company from Berkeley. In 1781 he was in the battle of Guilford as a member of John 
Tate's company. 

McLane, John; Born in Ulster, 1757. In 1778 served in Greenbrier under Captain David 
Gray. In January, 1781, he went out on a tour of three months under Captain Andrew 
Moore. It took about fifteen days to get home from Norfolk. 

McKee, James: Born in Pennsylvania, 1752, died in Rockbridge, 1832. Declaration by 
Nancy, the widow. John T., a son. Total service, seventeen months, twenty-nine days. His 
first service was three months with Christian in the Cherokee expedition. The second was 
when he marched under Captain Charles Campbell and Lieutenant Samuel Davidson to 
Point Pleasant in the fall of 1777. The third was a tour of three months in Greenbrier, just 
after the Shawnees attacked Donally's fort. The fourth was as an ensign in the spring of 
1781, at which time he marched to Portsmouth. In the summer of the same year he served 
on the Peninsula. In the fall he served his last tour, and was at the siege of Yorktown. 

Miller, William: Born in Pennsylvania, 1757, and came to Rockbridge about 1770. 
October 9, 1780, he went out under Captain James Gilmore, Lieutenant John Caruthers, and 
Ensign John McCorkle, and was in the battle of the Cowpens. For four weeks he was 
guarding Garrison's Ferry on the Catawba. 

Moore, William: Early in 1781 he served under Captain Samuel Wallace and Lieutenant 
Edmondson of Bowyer's regiment. Later in the year he marched to Richmond as captain of 
a volunteer company. In September he went again as a captain. From Yorktown he 
marched with the prisoners to Winchester, and was discharged there in December, going 
home with not over twenty of the men he had taken out. 

Shepherdson, David: Born in Louisa, 1763, came to Rockbridge, 1815. In June, 1780, he 
marched to join the army of Gates, and at Deep River himself and comrades nearly perished, 
having nothing but green crabapples to eat. A detail of 200 men was sent out to thresh 
some grain. Was in the battle near Camden, August 16th. After the retreat to Hillsboro, 
provisions became so scarce that the captain advised the men to go home and get provisions 
and clothing, their clothing having been lost at Camden. They did so and returned, were 
advised to go home again, and on their second return were honorably acquitted by a court- 
martial. Next year he served six months on the Peninsula, and was present at the surrender 
of Cornwallis. 

Vines, Thomas: Born in Amherst, 1756. Served at Charlottesville and Winchester, 
guarding prisoners. Was in the battles of Hot Water and Green Spring and at the siege of 

Wiley, Andrew: Born in Rockbridge, 1756. .Vbsent forty-two days in 1777, driving cat- 
tle to the mouth of Elk on the Kanawha. In 1778-79, he served twelve months in the 
Continental line under General Morgan. In the fall of 1780, he was a substitute in Captain 
James Hall's company. This company and those of Campbell and Gray joined General 
Muhlenburg at Deep Run Church near Richmond. In tlie spring of 1781, he joined Greene's 
army at Guilford as a member of a Botetourt company. The Carolina men. who formed 
the first line, ran at the outset. The riflemen to which apiilicant belonged formed the cov- 
ering party at the left, and when the Carolina men fled, the British came down on a ridge 
between this party and the command of Colonel Campbell. The enemy were swept off by 
the Virginia riflemen, but formed again and again, and compelled the party to ground their 
arms. Captain Tilford was killed. 

Andrew Wiley was one of the Virginians who marched against the "Whiskey Boys," in 



A G)*iPA»isoN— Amai riit Rwolutiox — Disestablishment— Lire and Times is 1850— 

Pktticrew Tracedv 

The Mi'ldlc Pcriml in Rockbridge history begins with the peace of 17W 
and continues until the outbreak of another American war in 1861. Tlie Recent 
Period begins with tlic cessation of hostihties in 1865 and conies down to tlie 
present year. The first covers the lifetime of an old man. The second covers 
the lifetime of a man of middle age. A feature common to the two periods is 
that each lies between two great wars. 

But while, as we shall presently see, the Recent Period is that of an almost 
revf)luti(innry change in industrial methods, and even in everyday life, the 
Middle Period is that of a slow and partial unfolding, l^hor-saving machinery 
was virtually unknown when the earlier period opened and was little more than a 
novelty when it closed. Men wore homespun in 1780, and were still wearing it 
in 1860. Men were still shooting with flintlocks in 1860. There was no change in 
agriculture, aside from the discontinuance of hemp about 1825. The Middle 
Period was well under way when canal navigation entered Rockbridge, and was 
almost at its close when a railroad crossed the northwest corner. It was almost 
at its close before people began to use envelopes and stamps in mailing their let- 
ters. Brick manor-houses, very rare at the close of the War for Independence, 
multiplied in the more fertile neighborhoods. But throughout the eight decades 
the log house was the tyj)ical home in Rockbridge. .Ml in all, the impress of the 
pioneer d.iys was much in evidence, even so late as I860. 

In 1 "75-1781. few of the men of this county went to war except for two or 
three months at a time, and as no invading host came to burn academies and 
plunder smokehouses, the work of the farm could not have suffered in anything 
like the same degree as in 1861-1865. Htit in each instance there was a depreciated 
paper money, a chaos of values, and commerce was ahnost on a vacation. 

When John Greenlee became sherifT in 1785 he found the taxes for the two 
preceding years uncollected, although the people were permitted to pay them in 
hemp at the rate of $5.00 j>er hundredweight, delivery to be made at designated 
places at any time before I)eceml)er 20, 1785. In collecting the tax Greenlee 
used a number of hemp receipts which the treasurer of the State was unwilling to 
rrccive. Six years later a petition to the .\ssembly mentions tobacco, hemp, and 
flc'iir as the chief things available for paying taxes and buying necessaries. It 
ROCS on to .say that the roads were rough and bad. and the price of tobacco so 
low that the farmers would have to abandon the crop unless it could be inspected 



nearer than Tidewater. The petition asked that inspection might be made at 
Nicholas Davis's below Balcony Falls. 

The closing decades of the eighteenth century were a time of fermentation 
in America. Religion and mental improvement were much neglected, and there 
seems to have been more coarseness in word and action than in the pioneer 
epoch. Matters political kept in the lime-light and promoted the noisy assertive- 
ness that sprang from American independence. 

The disestablishment of the Church of England was one of the first reforms 
of the Revolution. One-half of the Virginians of 1775 were dissenters or in 
sympathy with the dissenters, and they could no longer be made to support a 
state church in addition to the church of their choice. Accordingly, no taxes 
were paid to the Establishment after New Year's Day, 1777. In 1802 the parish 
farms were ordered to be sold. Yet the clerical party fought to the last ditch, 
and full religious liberty was not secured until 1785. The conservatives argued 
that conduct is governed largely by opinion, and that it was proper for the legis- 
lature to enact measures calculated to promote opinion of a desirable sort. In 
1783 they urged that in place of the old Establishment each citizen should be 
assessed for the support of some church, in order that public morality might be 
maintained. The counties west of the Blue Ridge were a unit against any such 
half-loaf. As compared with Tuckahoe Virginia they were new, poor, and 

To the people of Rockbridge, the war of 1812 and the war with Mexico were 
much less serious than the Revolution, and the casualties in battle were exceed- 
ingly few. Yet in 1814 there was much illness and a number of deaths among 
the soldiers from the mountain counties. They were stationed on the coast, es- 
pecially around Norfolk. To them the climate seemed hot and sultry, and the 
drinking water inferior to that of the mountain springs. 

About 1822 there was a strong agitation for the removal of the capital to 
Staunton. The Assembly was bombarded with many petitions to this effect from 
the counties of the \\'estern District. This movement was one of the symptoms 
of the discord between the two sections of the state. The feud led to the Staun- 
ton Convention of 1816 and its demand for reform in the state government. 
But the Constitutional Convention of 1829 was dominated by the reactionary ele- 
ment, and there was little relief until the Constitution of 1851 became law. 

Until 1789 there was no mail schedule south of Alexandria. No envelopes 
were used with letters. The rate of postage was governed by the distance, and 
for a long while payment was made by the person to whom the letter was ad- 
dressed. Three-cent postage did not come until 1855. 

Until 1792 values were often computed in terms of tobacco, 100 pounds of 
the weed being equivalent to one pound — ^5.?i.^ — in \'irginia currency. 

In the 30's, and onward until the war of 1861, the country was flooded 


with banknote currency, much of it of the "wildcat" variety. The national bank- 
ing system was still a thing of the future, and the man traveling from his own 
state into another had to exchange his home paper money for that of the other 
state, and undergo a "shave" in doing so. He had also to be on his guard against 
counterfeit bills. A copy of the Counterfeit Detector and Banknote List was 
indispensable to any merchant who was doing much business. 

The goods for the merchants of l^xington came by tlic Tennessee road 
wagon, a huge vehicle drawn by six horses in gay trappings. The cover was 
sometimes of bearskin instead of canvas. The wagoner was somewhat like the 
bo.itman of the Western rivers. He was a h.irdy, swaggering personage, but the 
state driver would not tolerate the idea of lodging in the same tavern with him. 

The polling places in 1830 were four: Joseph Bell's at Goshen, H. R. Jones' 
at Brownsburg, the tavern at Natural Bridge, and the house of one of the 
numerous Monres. Four years later, the tavern of John McCorkIc became a 
voting place, and in 1845 the tavern of John Albright at Fairfield. 

Outside of the county seat and the few vill.igcs, Rockbridge had in 1835 
three furnaces, six forges, ten stores, and iwenty-four gristmills. 'H ilu- 
thirteen country churches, nine were Presbyterian. 

Before the Revolution, the .ipiieared on slate occasions in a 
dress suit of broadcloth, often dark-blue, but sometimes plum or pea-green. 
His long waistcoat was black and his trowscrs of some light color. His tall black 
hat was similar to the "stove-pipe" of a later day. .Vt the top of his ruffled 
short-bosom appeared a tall, stiflF collar of the type known as a stock, and around 
this was fastened a black silk handkerchief. His hair was cropped short to 
make room for a powdered wig. Women wore towering l)onnets. The low- 
necked dress had a cape or collar and enormous mutton-leg sleeves. Bv the 
close of the war of 1812, tight breeches had just gone out of fashion. The coat 
was "high in the collar, tight in the sleeve, short in the back, and swallow-tailed. 
The hat was narrow-brimmed and bell-crowned." The cravat was a white han<l- 
kerchief, stiff-starched and voUuninous, the flowing ends resting on a ruffled 
shirt-bosom. The pocket handkerchief was a bandanna. Gloves were not much 
worn. Woman's dress was "plain in color, short in waist, narrow in skirt. As 
soon as a woman was married she jnit on a cap." Imported goods were not in 
general use, but were worn year after year. "In the country, grandchihlren could 
see the wedding coat still on granddaddy's back on state occasions." In the 50's 
a certain citizen of this county was wearing linen trowscrs forty years old, yet 
seemingly as good as new. A few moccasins were still worn. Work-shoes were 
of cowhide, dress shoes of calf-skin. The farmer's boy had to make one pair la-^t 
a year. 

In 1810 not less than 5,000.000 yards »if homespun linen were m.inuf.-ictured 
in \'irginia, and much the greater share of this output originated west of the 



Blue Ridge. Until about the middle of the century it was only the people of 
aristocratic tastes who wore clothing made of imported cloth. 

The hemp that was not sent to market was made into sacking, or into a hard, 
strong cloth of a greenish hue that slowly turned to a white. 

The flax patch was seldom of more than one acre. The stalks were pulled 
when the seeds were fully ripe, and were laid out in gavels, the stem-ends forming 
a line. After a while the bundles were set up, and when dry were put into the 
barn. In the winter season the stalks were broken to loosen the fiber. This 
was done by laying them against slats and giving a few blows with a wooden 
knife. Scutching was the next step, and was performed by holding the broken 
stems against an upright board and striking them obliquely with the same knife. 
Then came in succession the spinning, the weaving, and the bleaching. The 
unbleached cloth was of the color of flaxen hair. The homemade linen was of 
two grades, one for fine and one for coarse cloth. Six yards a day was about 
the utmost the weaver could accomplish, if the weaving were to be tight enough. 

The imported dyestufTs were indigo, logwood, and madder, used respectively 
for blue, black, and red shades. The root and hulls of the hickory made a 
dark-brown ; the bark, a yellow. Walnut bark made a brown color, sumach a 
black, and dogwood a dogwood berry tint. 

The log house of "ye olden time" had a floor of pine or poplar puncheons, 
made smooth and level with the adze. As spaces appeared in the process of dry- 
ing, the pvmcheons were moved closer together. The building of the roof has 
taken its place among the lost arts. The first gable-log projected one foot at each 
end, and was held in place by strong locust pins. The upper gable-logs, or eave- 
bearers, were held by the rest-poles on which the clapboards were laid. Stretch- 
ing between the first gable-logs was the eave-pole, which held the first course of 
clapboards. Rest-poles were laid between the upper gable-logs. The clapboards 
were three feet long and eight inches wide, and were laid with twelve inches of lap. 
Each course was held down by what was sometimes called a weight-pole and 
sometimes a press-pole. This fitted at each end into a notch in the gable-log and 
was further secured by a peg. Between each weight-pole and the one above it was 
a support called a knee. The uppermost weight-pole was heavier than the others 
and was pinned to its position. A rustic way of securing the top courses was 
with a pair of split poles, one of the halves lying against one side of the crown 
and one against the other. The ends were tied together with grapevine or 
hickory withes. When the pins in a press-pole rotted, the pole with its course 
of clapboards would slide to the ground. The chimney was of short logs well 
daubed inside with clay. Near the fireplace was the opening called the light-hole. 
\\ hen not in use it was covered with a sliding board. One lazy man broke a 
hole in the back of his chimney, so that he could poke his firewood through it 
instead of bringing it in by the door. 


The loghouscs of the larger and better class had chimneys of stone, some- 
times containing an enormous amount of masonry. In tiiis county the stone 
house generally ajipearcd earlier than the one of brick, and was sometimes in- 
tended to answer the purjKjse df a defense against the Indians. Limestone is 
abundant in Rockbridge, but has been little used in house-walls. Colonel John 
Jordan, a native of Hanover county and a builder of many brick mansions and 
other structures, is said to havi- intriMlnn il the colonial --tvU- nf architecture into 

The bill i>f fare was more simple than it is now. Corn pone was much in 
use. The other ordinary forms of the stafi of life were spoon bread, batter 
bread, and sponge bread. Stoves began to come into use alwut 1850, and at 
first were not well thought of. The loom-house was an adjunct of the prosper- 
ing farm. Elsewhere, the loonj was a feature of the living-room or the kitchen. 
Girls who learned to weave were able to make snnie money by going from house 
to house. 

TTie country store was a very |)!ain affair and was destitute of show- 
cases. Only the most common goods and necessaries were on exhibit. The 
business of the store seemed to move at a slow pace, yet the merchant was pros- 
perous. .After the war of 1816 there was a more rapid gait. 

There were two types of garden ; one with Ixds and herbs and one without. 
The climate of Scotland is not quite favorable to the kitchen garden, which was 
not generally adopted by the Scotch-Irish settlers of the Valley of Virginia until 
they took a hint by .seeing the gardens put out by the llession prisoners of war 
at Staunton. The herbs were sage, dilny. boneset. catnip, horsemint. hore- 
hound, "old man," and "old woman." These were used as home remedies, es- 
pecially by the "granny woman." who in no small degree stood in the place of 
the doctor. She used lobelia as an emetic, white walnut bark as a purgative, 
snakeroot for coughs, and elder blossom to produce perspiration. The hark of 
dogwwid. cherry, and poplar, steeped in whiskey, was used for fever and ague. 
For the much dreaded dysentery, she enijiloyed Mayajiple root, walnut bark, and 
slippery elm bark. A favorite way of treating a cold was for the patient to 
warm his feet thoroughly before a fire aiul then cover U]) in bed. 

Trials of strength entered more largely into the sports of the period than 
they do now. Wrestling, jumping, and Ixtxing were po|>ular. A very common 
game was bandy played with turned balls of lignum vitx. 

The "frolic" was a vital feature of the "gornl old times." One form of 
it was the corn huskihg. The corn was shucked in the field, hauled into the 
farmyard, and thrown into a single pile. At the frolic, two captains were 
agreed upon, and worthies, by choosing alternately, divided the crowd hito 
two rival coni|)anies. The pile of corn was divided, and there was a race be- 
tween the companies to see which side would come out first. The defeated com- 



pany then had to pick up the victor-captain, and "tote" him arotind the pile of 
ears. A red ear entitled the finder to a kiss from his companion of the other 
sex. A big supper followed the husking, after which the floor was cleared by 
taking the furniture and other impediments out of the room, and then came 
dancing, sometimes kept up until daybreak. Charges of unfairness were occa- 
sionally hurled by one company at the other, and the small boys did well to 
get out of harm's way. "Black Betty" was passed around. The whiskey inflamed 
the jealousy aroused by rival admirers and rosy-cheeked girls, and serious affrays 
were liable to be the outcome. Besides the husking frolic, there were log- 
rollings, singing schools, shooting matches, and hunting with hounds. Christ- 
mas was made much of. "Bring your knitting and spend the day," was the invi- 
tation often extended by one woman to another. 

A century ago women sometimes wielded the twn-prongcd wooden fork in 
the hayfield. Corn was rarely shocked, and yet more rarely topped and bladed. 
The cradle had just come into general use, but some of the older men still 
looked with more favor on the sickle. Threshing was sometimes done with 
horses. The first threshing machines often got out of order. On one occasion 
a flying tooth tore a hole in the roof of a barn. There was no market for hay. 
Peavine and "rich-weed" made good pasture. Fertility was maintained by 
rotation and by the use of lime and clover. There was an independence in the 
simple life of the Rockbridge farmer of the antebellum period, which has 
largely passed with the altered conditions of the twentieth century. 

Writing in 1844, Henry RufTner strikes a pessimistic note. He says that "our 
free mountain air has become tainted ; the labor of oiir fields is done in great 
part by fettered hands ; our manners have become more refined than our morals, 
and instead of the sturdy but intelligent simplicity that once reigned through all 
the land, a half-savage ignorance has grown up in its nooks and dells, while in 
the open country a mixed population shows much that is excellent, but upon the 
whole a failing spirit of energetic industry and enterprise." It was Ruffncr's 
belief that between 1790 and 1840 Virginia lost more by emigration than all the 
free states. "She has driven from her soil at least one-third of all the emigrants 
who have gone to the new states." After Ohio and Kentucky had begun to at- 
tract settlers, the more thrifty and enterprising of the Rockbridge farmers ac- 
quired lands in that quarter, and the disposal of such tracts is often mentioned 
in wills. 

A brief pen-picture of Rockbridge is given by the Duke of Saxe-W'eimer 
Eisenach, who crossed this county in the fall of 1825. He observes that he 
traveled from Staunton to Natural Bridge in a miserable stage and over a very 
bad road. The wooden bridge over the Buffalo was used only in time of very 
high water. The only "decent places" he passed were Fairfield and Lexington. 
Yet the foreigner mentions "many very handsome country houses," at one 
of which he noticed eight eagles sitting on a fence. These were cared for by the 


proprietor. By seeing snipe fly into the tavern yard at l-'airficld. the stranger 
thought the people were not fond of shooting. He found that game was plenty, 
and that a wliolc deer could lie purchased for $1.50. He had little to say of 
Lexington, then a town of 1,100 people. He wondered that all the coachmen 
were white. There was niucii travel on horsehack. The road fronj l.e.xington 
to Staunton by way of I'airtield was generally through a forest. The traveler 
was a German and was an object of some interest to the few German people he 
met in this county. 

The most distressing tragedy in the history of Rockbridge took place in 
the earlier half of the night of December 16-17, 1846. John Petticrcw, a 
native of Campbell county, fell into straitened circumstances, and in 1843 
moved into a log house in the southward-facing cove between the two House 
mountains. The wife of Petticrew had been Mary A. Moore, of Kerr's Creek. 
The oldest of the six children was sixteen, the youngest was six, and all were 
healthy and strong. The evening of December 16th was snowy, and by midnight 
there was a high wind. Next morning the snow was much drifted, and for several 
days the weather was very cold. The fourth day was Sunday, and in the morning 
Mr. Petticrew came home according to his custom from his work at the dis- 
tillery of William .Alphin. To his horror he found his house burned to the 
ground. Lying near by were the frozen and partially clad bodies of the wife 
and all the children except the oldest, a daughter who was with her sick 
grandmother on Kerr's Creek. Strong men wept when they saw the corpses 
laid out for burial. Foul play was suspected on the part of James Anderson 
and his wife Mary, who lived a half-mile away. The .\ndcrsons did not lieai 
a gofxl name. The husband was not one of the crowd that gathered on tin- 
Sunday that Petticrew made his grewsome discovery, nor was he present at 
the burial. Pettigrew had had some trouble with the neighlwr because of 
Anderson's cows breaking into his field. He was knocked down by .Ander.son, 
who tried to choke him. Armed with a search-warrant, a brother to Mrs. 
Petticrew visited the Anderson home and found therein a coverlet and some 
other articles that had belonged to her. The silverware of the Pelligrews was 
not found. Anderson was triecl in Hath, but was ac(|uitted on the ground of 
insufficient evidence. He went to Craig and never again lived in Rockbridge. 
It remained the common opinion that .Xnderson was really gtiilly. and there is 
a story that in a fit of remorse he maile a deathl)cd cfinfession. .And yet an 
examination of the corpses was inconclusive as to whether death came from 
violence or from the intense cold following a fire either accicjcntal or intentional. 
Within two years Pettigrew died of a broken heart. The daughter who was 
away from home subsequently n>arrie<l James G. Reynolds and had two children. 
The victims of the tragedy were buried at Oxford. The stone over the grave 
was shattered by lightning and was replaced with a monument paid for by 
friends of the family. 



Causes of the War of 1861 — Presidential Campaign of 1860 — Meetings in Rockbridge — 

Discussions in the Local Newspapers — State Convention at 

Richmond — A Flag Raising at Lexington 

A county history is not the place to dwell at length on the causes of the great 
American war of 1861. It cannot spare much room for topics essentially national 
in character. 

But in the case of Rockbridge, this theme is of more than ordinary interest. 
Because of its prominent public men, its educational institutions, and its rank as a 
Valley county, the people of Rockbrdge took a keen interest in the political 
events of the year ending in mid-April, 1861. A resident of the county was gov- 
ernor of Virginia ; an instructor in its military school was to win great renown 
as a Confederate general ; the beloved leader of the Army of Northern Virginia 
was to become the president of its college. And during the months in which 
the storm-cloud was coming to its full dimensions, the issues of the day were 
discussed at much length, and very ably, in the newspapers and literary societies 
of Lexington. 

In this chapter, therefore, we first take a comprehensive glance at the gen- 
eral causes of the war, and follow it with an account of what was taking place 
in Rockbridge during the presidential campaign of 1860 and the opening months 
of 1861. 

The thirteen American colonies that shook off their allegiance to Britain in 
1776 were politically independent of one another. Not one of the group had 
tlie power to absorb the others, and the United States of America is the only 
country on earth without a distinctive name. The term by which our country 
is known is a definition, and is not properly a name. Since the colonies used 
the English language, and derived their laws and institutions from England, 
they could not do otherwise than act together in effecting the separation that was 
generally desired. But the Continental Congress was not the same thing as the 
Federal Congress that succeeded it. The former body was merely a central 
committee representing the state governments. One state had as much voice 
in this conmiittee as another. The Congress could advise, but it might not com- 

When the states set about forming a "more perfect union," it was much as 
if the eleven countries of South America should declare a United States of 
South America. Each country would bring into this union a pride in its four 
centuries of Caucasian history. It would be jealous of its own rights and sus- 


picious of what the future might develop. The new name would carry no 
suggestion of nationality. The only nationality the South Americans could 
feci \voul<i he the nationality of Brazil, or Peru, or Argentina. .\ny member 
would resent at attempt at military coercion in the name of the union. 

W'liat could thus happen in South .Vmerica is precisely what did happen 
in North America. The popular opinion among the Americans of 1788 was that 
they were entering a confederation. For many years they commonly spoke 
of their union as such. But they were really entering a federation. Now in 
a confederation, the central government acts on the people through the medium 
of the various state governments, while in a federation it acts on them inde- 
pendently of the state governments. The framers of the Constitution did not 
attempt to be entirely explicit. They were practical men. and if they had 
e.xpresscd themselves dogmatically, their labors would have been in vain. The 
constitution was adopted only after strenuous opposition in a majority of the 
states. That the Americans of the Revolutionary period generally regarded the 
new government as a confederation, is because they did not then, nor for some 
years afterward, have the mental attitude for viewing it in a different light. 

The two groups of colonies separated by Delaware Bay were either founded 
by Englishmen, or soon came under English control. But the motives leading 
to the colonization of the two regions were not quite the same. The ditTcrcnces 
were accentuated by economic distinctions. The Southern colonies were almost 
wholly agricultural, and their population was so dispersive that it took the 
lead in settling the West and Southwest. The New Englanders were a village 
people and slow to scatter. Their soil was poor, and because they turned to 
manufactures and commerce, most of the American cities arose in the North. 
The Middle Colonics had the economic features of both sections, but their 
deciding interests were those of the New England corner. 

Had the Union never outgrown the area of the thirteen original states, the 
confederate interj)retalion of it might have prevailed in the North iinich longer 
than it did. The scale was turned by the vast plain of the Mississippi, which is a 
geographic whole. The West has always been more homogeneous than the 
scalx>ard, and its political point of view has always been nationalistic. I'rom the 
very first, state lines have been of minor importance to the Western man. 
The coming of rapid travel and lalwr-saving machinery operated powerfully 
to link the commercial North to the agricultural West. There was an increased 
pride of country in these sections. Tlieir people came to look upon the L'nion as 
no longer a nation io promise, but a nation in fact. But the South was still 
almost wholly agricultural, and its mode of life was much the same as in the 
peri<Kl of the Revolutoin. It was a perfectly natural outcome that the ])olitical 
point of view of the South had undergone no material change. 

The principle of secession, as found in .American history, rests primarily 


Upon the idea of a Union based on the free consent of its members. It was 
first put forward in the North and not in the South. But it is significant 
that a serious discussion of it in one state would be viewed with immediate 
disapproval in all the others. 

In 1790 there was a balance in population between North and South. For 
several decades later, people did not feel that this balance was being disturbed. 
As for slavery, it was not liked in the upper South and was not actively opposed 
in the North. But by 1850, the North was far in the lead. A rising spirit of 
the age was antagonistic to slavery. To protect its vast slave property, the 
South put itself in a defensive attitude. 

Until 1861, the control of the Federal government had been almost all the 
while with the South. This power was voiced by a relatively small class of 
people. In the North there was a subconscious feeling that its much superior 
population and its industrial development gave it a better title to lead the nation. 
For this purpose it organized a new political party and won the election of 
1860. The South instinctively recognized this result as a challenge to a trial of 
strength and acted accordingly. The one great issue, reduced to its lowest 
terms, was whether the Federal Union had grown into a nation of indivisible 
sovereignty, with a conceded power to coerce a reluctant member. To the 
North this time had arrived. To the South it had not arrived. Witliin a few 
more decades the South would have thrown out slavery and adjusted itself to the 
economic civilization of the North. The war of 1861 was a short cut in this di- 
rection, and because the measure was drastic it wrought great destruction and 
great hardship. But when the storm-cloud was about to break, it was only a few 
far-sighted men who could grasp the issue in its larger aspects. The majority 
of people feel rather than think, and such persons in 1860 could perceive little 
more than the outward symptoms. And because thinking was subordinated 
to feeling, waves of excitement seized the multitudes, both North and South, 
and hurried the country into domestic war. 

The one section could see little else than a wicked attempt by an arrogant 
oligarchy to pull down the best government on earth, and thus cause either half 
to occupy a lower rank in the family of nations. The North flew to arms to 
preserve national unity at any cost, and to see to it that rivalries of a European 
nature, sidetracked by the Constitution of 1787, could not again spring into life. 
The other section could see little else than an unholy attempt to overturn its 
local governments, to destroy the value of a large class of its property, and to 
adopt without time for adjustment a mode of life prescribed by the victor. Hence 
the South flew to arms to maintain its local self-government at any cost, and to 
prevent an abrupt transition from entering into its ecoonmic life. The men on 
each side of the controversy were honest, sincere, and determined. In the light 
of the conditions confronting him. neither the typical Northerner nor the typical 
Southerner could have acted otherwise than he did. 


The "year of suspense," as we style the present chapter, began with the 
nominating conventions of 1860. There were four candidates for the presidency. 
Lincoln, Douglas. Brcckcnridge, and Bell. Lincoln stood for the extreme North- 
ern position, and Brcckcnridge for the extreme Southern. The conservative 
elements supported Douglass and Bell. Southern votes for Lincoln were very 
few and were wholly in the border states. That Bri-ckenridge had a considerable 
support in several Northern states was because of considerations of party regular- 
ity. Douglas and Brcckcnridge were both Democrats, but the former was re- 
garded as a l)olter by the supporters of the other candidate. Douglas had a rather 
large following in the border slave states, and (juite a number of the old line 
Whigs in the coast states of the North cast their votes for Bell. But in general 
terms, the voting was sectional. The North supported the northern candidates, 
Lincoln and Douglas. The South supported the southern candidates. Brcckcn- 
ridge and Bell. 

In the days before the war, Rockbridge was counted as a Whig community, 
whereas the state almost invariably gave a majority for the Democratic nominee 
for the presidency. In 1856. Buchanan's majority over I'ilimore was only eighty- 
eight votes, but seemingly for the reason that 286 votes went to Fremont. 
When viewed in the light of the next campaign, it seems rather strange that 
a ninth of the total number of votes should have been given to the first Republi- 
can candidate. But Fremont was son-in-law to Senator Benton, of Missor.ri, 
and Benton was reared and married in Rockbridge. 

The following table shows the vote by precincts in Rockbridge, November 
6. 1860: 

Bell Douglas Brcckcnridge 

Lrxinglon 290 148 49 

Kcrrj Creek 96 79 9 

CuIIicrstown 76 20 66 

Drydcn's 37 22 32 

\Vil»on'» Shop .62 4S 18 

Paxton'i Schoolhoufc 77 15 29 

Trev/. 68 63 9 

Natural Bridge HI 47 84 

Ilamillon"! 70 50 18 

Fairfield 102 85 27 

BrowntburK IIU 36 8 

Cothrn 59 31 16 

Total UMI 641 365 

An analysis of the tabic shows that Bell carried every precinct. an<l had 
almost twice as many votes as Douglas. It also shows that Douglas had almost 
twice as many votes as Brcckcnridge. Natural Bri<lne, where several leaders of 
public opinion were in favor of secession, was the Brcckenri<lge stronghold. 


It is one of the curiosities of that exceptional campaign that the next highest 
vote for Breckenridge was in the present RepubHcan stronghold of Collierstown. 
No votes for Lincoln are on record. Bell, the choice of the Rockbridge voters, 
was the standard bearer of the Constitutional Union party, which was the suc- 
cessor of the Whig party in the South. The only plank in its platform was 
"the constitution, the union, and the enforcement of the laws." 

It is an interesting fact that Bell's leading competitor for the nomination 
was Samuel Houston, a native of Rockbridge. Bell was nominated on the second 
ballot, receiving 138 votes. Houston had sixty-nine, and all others, forty-six. 

In its issue of November 29th, the Lexington Gasette makes this comment 
on the election, referring to the Democratic party when it speaks of Conserva- 
tives : 

Now that he (Lincoln) has been elected, what can he do? The Conservative party have 
a majority in both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court is Conservative. The Executive 
can enforce no law prejudicial to the institution of slavery, if Congress enacts none. 
Every act he does is done under the solemn oath which he takes at his inauguration. Had 
we not then better try him? It may be that he will prove to be a conscientious and a law- 
abiding man. Mr. Jefferson went the full length Lincoln goes against slavery. We have 
not had an ultra pro-slavery president, unless Mr. Tyler may be called so, and yet all 
the time the institution of slavery has been safe from executive interference. 

One day later, the Staunton Vindicator published the following editorial 
comment on secession : 

To our mind the secession of the cotton states is a fixed fact. It is this for which the 
politicians of those states have been planning and scheming for years. It is no oppression 
that they feel, but a willful, deliberate, and criminal purpose to dissolve the Union and 
reopen the African slave trade. The clear and unequivocal policy of the Middle (border) 
States is to keep aloof from them. In the course of time the seceders may seek a reunion 
upon such terms as will be granted. If they do not, we venture the prediction that they will 
become conquered provinces before ten years. The devilish spirit which will have brought 
this destruction upon the Union can never rest contented after the Southern Confederacy 
is established, and will be certain to plunge it into war. 

Nevertheless, a meeting held at the courthouse in Lexington November 26th 
shows the intense excitement in Rockbridge. The chairman was directed to ap- 
point a committee of twelve to prepare a circular letter to the people of the 
county. This committee was made up of Hugh Barclay, J. B. Dorman, Samuel 
Gilbert, E. L. Graham, T. J. Jackson, J. R. Jordan, David E. Moore, J. \V. 
Paine, E. F. Paxton, J. T. L. Preston, J. McD. Taylor, and William White. 
The courtroom was filled to its utmost capacity. A discussion on the state 
of the country lasted from noon until four o'clock. The Gazette speaks of a 
disposition to ignore party di (Terences and to act unitedly. It adds that "the 
interest felt by the people was such as we have never witnessed before." The 
call formulated by the committee was couched in the most earnest language. It 
asked the people of the county to convene at the courthouse on Monday, Decem- 
ber 3rd. 


Of this second meeting, Hugh Barclay was chairman. There were speeches 
by the ministers, John Miller and \V. N. Pendleton, and by Colonel F. H. 
Smith, Major J. T. L. Preston, |. \V. Brockcnbrough, and J. B. Dorman. At 
an adjourned meeting, December 15th, the leading grievances against the South 
were enumerated as the aggressive anti-slavery agitation in the North, the per- 
sonal liberty bills, and the appeals to the spirit of insurrection and murder. The 
personal liberty laws mentioned were those interfering with the capture of run- 
away slaves on free state soil. The clause alluding to insurrection and murder 
relates to the fanatical raid of John Brown at Harper's Perry, which took place 
fourteen months earlier. Ten resolutions were adopted, one of which states 
that "we cannot deem it the part of wise and brave Christian patriots even yet 
to despair of the republic. \Vc feel it to be a high duty as well as the dictate of 
true j)olicy on the part of \'irginia to struggle for the redress of her grievances 
within the Union." Another declares it "highly inexpedient in tiie present crisis 
to resort to coercion against any seceding state." 

South Carolina, the first of the cotton states to act, passed iicr ordinance of 
secession December 20th. The movement in that (juarter was watched in Rock- 
bridge with much interest, which for the most part was unsympathetic. 

A contributor to the GaceUe makes this comment : 

A Krcat deal of rash talk and inroii5idcratc action certainly cliaraclerizcs the conduct 
of the South at this time. There is no deliberation, save the delilierate treason that has 
long been cherished in the breasts of the leaders of the movement. A disruption of the 
union of these states reads the doom of African slavery in the South. While the Union 
existf, there is an influence in the North itself that nearly if not altogether cancels the 
mad eflforts of the al>olitionists. While the Union exists, there is a United South, to a 
man ready to protect the South against aggression. But let the South con»ummate a 
severance, then the South stands isolated. Disunion will unsrillc the line that divides 
slave from free territory. Its first immediate cflTcct is to dc-.\fricani/c a broad belt 
of the border slave states, equal in extent to one-fourth of the slave territory. The mere 
anticipation of disunion has already turned thousands of ojieratives out of cmployinent 
in the North. The real event will this number by tens of thousands. Desperation 
will drive these hordes down upon us, either in a hostile raid or to seek a living in a friendly 
manner. Secession secures non-intercourse, and non-intercourse compels the South to 
manufacture. She must either do it by these discarded employees or by men from abroad. 
The result is the same: it brings in contact with slavery a |)opulatiun poisoned to it in all 
its asfiects. The idea of manufacturing by the aid of slave labor is simply absurd, not 
only from the fact of the incapacity of the negro, but from the fact that there are no 
slaves to be s|>ared from the planting interests. The African slave trade has been pro- 
nounced piracy, and an attempt to reo|>cn it would bring down upon the Southern Con- 
federacy the vengeance n4 all the great powers of Europe. Moreover, a manufacturing 
•nd a slave community arc antagonistic and dangerous to each other. It cannot be denied 
that slavery creates distinctions in society; a lalM^ring and a leisure class. The mechanic 
and the negro would constitute the former, and the nabobs the latter. 

An editorial of the same date a^ the South Carolina ordinance, and written 


before the news of that event could have reached Lexington, speaks in this man- 
ner of the secession movement: 

We do not desire to see this government broken up upon a point of honor more 
shadowy, more imaginary, more unreal, than any ever alleged by the professional duelist 
as a ground for demanding satisfaction. There is no dishonor in submitting to Lincoln's 
administration, because he is legally and constitutionally our president. Secession is a 
voluntary and complete relinquishment of the rights we hold in virtue of the Union. * » * 
Peaceable secession is nothing less than a surrender of these rights (to slave property 
in the territories). * * * Xo break up the Union upon a mere presumption that the 
president-elect intends to trample upon the constitution is to drive our Northern friends 
into union with our enemies. There were more votes against Lincoln in the Xorth than in 
the entire South. Peaceable secession is really cowardly submission. * * * There is a 
well-considered policy of a few plotting Catalines to precipitate the cotton states, and 
ultimately all the slave states, into revolution. 

It is interesting to note the paralleHsm between the above paragraph and the 
following e.\tract from a letter written from Lexington, January 1, 1833, con- 
cerning the proclamation on nullification by President Jackson. The letter was 
written by Doctor Archibald Graham : 

In this region it has been received with loud and almost universal applause. A meet- 
ing was held yesterday in the courthouse, Reuben Grigsby in the chair. I am told they 
adopted resolutions approving the proclamation. There is a strong feeling in this county 
against nullification, and a very general disposition to put it down vi et arinis (by force of 
arms). I believe a strong volunteer company could be raised here, at a moment's warning, 
to march against them. 

The editorial further pointed out that secession would work a forfeiture of 
the interest of the South in the District of Columbia and the public lands, and 
that the South could not reestablish this interest without going to war. 

The influence on business of the secession talk is thus sketched in a letter 
in the Gaccttc: 

Money has become so scarce that debts can no longer be collected. Slave property has 
fallen in value from a third to a half. The indebtedness of the citizens of Rockbridge 
to the banks is not short of $100,000. The costs of goods brought in for sale is about 
$200,000. How are they to be paid? The flour sold out of the county this year does not 
exceed 1,000 barrels, worth about $5,000. The proceeds of other commodities except 
slaves are about $50,000. The slaves sold out of the county the last three years have 
brought about $400,000. That source of revenue seems at an end. The people must give 
up their habits of extravagance. Every lady must have a new bonnet every six months 
costing $20 to $50 apiece. There is doubt if the flour sold in the last twelve months would 
pay for the bonnets and silk dresses sold here in the same time. 

A proposed local organization was the "Rockbridge Economical Society." If 
possible, the members were to attend the Rockbridge fair of 1861 in clothes made 
in Virginia, to buy in that year no cloth not made in Virginia, to discourage bring- 
ing in any goods except those of prime necessity, and to promote domestic manu- 


It is also significant that the advenising: columns of the county papers con- 
tain somewhat frequent rc(juests for debtors to "fork over." 

An extra session of the legislature was called for the purpose of determin- 
ing "calmly and wisely what ought to be done." This bo<Jy met January 7, 
1P61, and decided to call a state convention, for which tlelegates were to be 
electe<l I'ebruary 4th. There had never yet been a convention in N'irginia not 
authorized by a po|)ular vote. An editorial of January 3 would appear io reflect 
the prevailing sentiment of Rockbridge. It makes these declarations: 

\Vc hope the people to a man will vole against a slate convention. .\ convention will 
lie a piece of machinery that will be oi>crated by secessionists to carry Virginia out of the 
Union. Ko government such as ours was ever before devised. If we allow it to go down, 
we believe that with it will go down the last hope of civil and religious liberty. Let us not 
follow the example of South Carolina, who seeks to put an unanswerable argument into the 
mouths of des|x)ts. South Carolina has said by her action that a republican government 
can l>e dissolved at any lime, that it is a government without |)ower, that it is no government 
at all. 

Meetings of workingmen at Lexington and Rrownsburg were largely at- 
tended, and pasiicd resolutions that were "moderate and patriotic." A meeting 
at the courthouse, January 7th, failed to vote any resolutions, and broke up in 
disorder, some sixty persons cheering for South Carolina. This element was 
principally made up of cadets. Many of the citizens were indignant at the 
rowdyism, and it was denounced in a meeting at Old Monmouth presided over 
by John Anderson, Sr. The last named meeting resolved that "we refuse to 
sanction the attempt of any state to secede from the Union, l)elieving that 
such an .net would be no renudy for the grievances of which wc complain." 

Another meeting at the courthouse, January 21st, adjourned with three 
cheers for the Union, after resolving, "that in the opinion of this meeting 
the plan of adjustment proposed by Hon. J. J. Crittenden, and now pending 
before the Senate of the United States, is a just and honorable basis for set- 
tlement of our national difTiculties." The same meeting nominated Samuel McD. 
Moore and James B. Dorman to represent the county in the convention. Three 
days later, Mr. Moore and Mr. J. W. Hrockenbrough. another candidate, pub- 
lished their appeals to the voters. In the event of a dissolution of the Union, 
Mr. Moore was in favor of Virginia being independent of all the other states. 
He exj)rc-sse<l the opinion that "\'irgi!iia never can become very prosperous 
except as a manuf.tcturing state." He declared in favor of excluding New 
I" ' ' from a new confeder.icy, and was "strongly in favor of the proposed 
■ 1) being submitted to the people." He .id<led that "the ex.imple of the 

Alabama convention, which has passed a secession ordinance, should Ik a warn- 
ing to the j>eople of \"irginia." He saw reason to apprehend that a m.ajority 
of the convention may be elected as disunionists, although a large majority of the 
voters might be friendly to the Union. Mr. Hrockenbrough thought secession 


would conic, and asserted that "tlie Union that the constitution gave us no 
longer exists." C. C. Baldwin, a fourth candidate, favored immediate secession 
if the difficuhies with the North were not settled when the convention met. 

The short campaign was very animated. An editorial of January 31st urges 
that the voters insist on a ratification at the polls of the decision of the conven- 
tion. It remarks that "there is no limit in the law to the powers of the con- 
vention," which "may bind you against your will to a monarchy or aristocracy 
instead of a republic." It points out disapprovingly that "an able writer in the 
Southern press has proposed the adoption of a monarchy," while another, in 
letters to the English papers, suggests asking for one of Victoria's sons as a king. 
It further observes that Mr. Spratt, of South Carolina, had come out boldly for 
an aristocracy, alleging that there is an irrepressible conflict between democracy 
and aristocracy; that equahty is not a right of mankind in the mass but of equals 

In the election there were 1,869 votes for Dorman. 1.839 for Moore, 293 
for Brockenbrough, and seventy-two for Baldwin. There were no votes for 
Baldwin in six precincts out of the twelve. The result rather upheld the con- 
tention of the Gazette that there were not more than 250 secessionists in the 

The state convention met February 13th, little more than a fifth of the 
delegates going to Richmond as avowed secessionists. By a vote of more than 
two to one the people of the state reserved the right to pass upon the action of 
that body. By the decisive majority of more than 1,500. Rockbridge declared in 
favor of submitting such action to the people. 

The following letter by Alexander II, H. Stuart, of Staunton, throws an 
interesting light on the atmosphere in which the convention worked. 

Since the first day of the session, Richmond has been the scene of unexampled e.xcite- 
ment. The disunionists from all parts of the state have been here in force, and have sought 
to bring every influence to bear to precipitate Virginia into secession and civil war. * ♦ • 
Secession is a doctrine of New England origin. It is at war with the whole theory of our 
institutions, and is subversive of every principle of popular government. * * • In my 
opinion, there is no natural antagonism between the Northern and the Southern states. 
They (the sections) are the complements of each other. The present alienation is the work 
of designing men. I believe that all our wrongs can be most effectually redressed in the 
Union. Secession, instead of being a remedy, would be an aggravation. It would lead to 
emancipation, and probably to emancipation in blood. Should the Union be dissolved peace- 
ably, the policy of the new goveriunent will be shaped by the cotton states. Free trade, and 
direct taxation for the support of the Federal government, will be the cardinal features of 
that policy. The expense of maintaining the present government of the United States, 
ranging from $60,000,000 to $100,000,000 a year, is raised by duties and is voluntarily paid 
in the form of increased prices by those who buy foreign goods. Under the other systeiu, 
the tax would be involuntary, and Virginia's part would be about $5,000,000. * » ♦ This 
would be a very heavy burden. South Carolina's causes of dissatisfaction are financial and 
not the same as ours. ' 


Samuel McD. Moore, a gentleman now sixty- four years of age, of com- 
manding presence and mature convictions, took a leading part in the proceedings 
of the convention. He was a member of the Conmiitice on Federal Relations. 
Jeremiah Morton, of Orange, introduced a resolution declaring against coercion 
of the seceding states on any pretext whatever, and stating that while \'irginia 
was ardently dc-iring to restore the Federal Union, she would unite with her 
sister states of the South if the efTorts then under way should not avail. Mr. 
Moore, in reply, said the cotton states had not consulted Virginia, and he did 
not intend to Ik: bound hand and foot by them. He would neither be hurried out 
of the Union, nor kept in it by precipitate action. I f compelled to go anywhere, 
he was determined to know first where he was going, who he was to go with, 
and what was to be his condition after he did go. He was ready to resist sending 
troops through \'irginia to attack the seceding states, but if the latter thought 
proper to attack any United States fort, they would have to abide the conse- 
quences. He would at a proper time undcrt.ike to show that there was a conflict 
of interest between \'irginia and the cotton states. 

These five resolutions were introduced by Mr. Moore, February 25th: 
1. That in resisting the fugitive slave law, refusing to give up refugees, trying to 
deprive the South of common territory, in circulating incendiary pamphlets, 
and furnishing arms to bands of assassins, the South demands full and ample 
security that these wrongs shall not be repeated. 2. \*irginia can never join 
a confederacy with the African slave trade. 3. Virginia refuses to endorse 
government by direct taxation. 4. Approval of the Crittenden program. 5. "H 
such amendments arc not adopted, \'irginia will enter into a compact with such 
states as will agree to adopt them, whereby the present government of the 
United States will be dissolved as to the states so agreeing." 

Mr. Dorman introduced an additional resolution to the efTect that the 
Federal Union can rightfully lie dissolved only by the power that made it, and 
that Virginia should work for a vote in all the states upon the decision of the 
Peace Conference. Several speeches were made on the Moore resolutions. A 
b.iiid of fifty to sixty men serenaded the seccessionists who had replied to 
Moore, an<l gave three groans while passing Moore's hotel. There was talk of 
burning him in effigy, and yet there was a motion in convention to adjourn to 

Meanwhile the people of Rockbridge were expressing their sentiments in word 
and in act. The Gaseltc had ntadc this comment on the slavery issue, February 
7th: "To us it seems clear that in the event a Southern Confeder.-icy is formed, 
slavery must inevitably lie driven from the states of Maryland, X'irginia. Ken- 
tucky, and Missouri, which will give rise to another dissolution." lust one 
month Later it gave these reasons for not going into a Southern Confeder.icy : 
"We arc devoted to the institution of slavery. We lielieve its general tendency 



is to elevate the condition of the African. A few masters maltreat their slaves, 
but just as many husbands maltreat their wives. Public sentiment frowns upon 
both. If the Southern states unite in a Southern Confederacy, slavery will be 
driven out of \'irginia. Fifty negroes would run off then for one that runs 
off now." In such a contingency, the Canada line would in effect be brought down 
to the frontier of Virginia. 

In a meeting at Natural Bridge, March 30th, with Edward Echols as chair- 
man, secession resolutions were passed with but three dissenting voices. Yet the 
Gazette expressed its belief that if the resolutions were to be offered in a meet- 
ing of all the citizens, there would be a majority against them of 1,500. Of 
Lincoln's inaugural address, the Gazette had these words to say : "We are not 
disposed to complain of the tone of this document. It maintains the doctrine of 
coercion, but there is not the slightest intimation that he would recommend to 
Congress the adoption of any coercive measures." 

The final day of the period we are considering came perilously near being 
a day of bloodshed. On receipt of the news that Confederate batteries were 
firing upon Fort Sumter, a Confederate flag was run up in front of the court- 
house. This was at eleven o'clock, on the morning of April 13th. There were 
speeches by Major Colston, J. G. Paxton, J. W. Massie, J. C. Davis, and J. W. 
Brockenbrough. The Unionists of Lexington, who were numerously represented 
among the mechanics and working people, determined to show their resentment 
by flying a Federal flag from a still higher flagstaff. The pole, which was of 
unusual length, was brought to the courtyard at too late an hour to set it in 
place. In the morning it broke while being raised, because of holes that had been 
bored into it. It was then necessary to splice the pole, and this work occupied 
some time. Meanwhile, a few cadets had come into town, and hot words passed 
between them and several of the townspeople. In the scuffle that ensued the 
cadets were very roughly handled. It is in the nature of youth to be radical, and 
the cadets of the Institute were generally ardent in their enthusiasm for the 
Southern Confederacy. On the part of the students of Washington College, 
such feeling was less in evidence. 

After the mauled youths had returned to their quarters and related their 
adventure, their comrades were hot with rage. Almost at once they shouldered 
their muskets and began marching up Main Street with the avowed intention of 
Storming the town and exacting satisfaction by force of arms. They were very 
soon met by Major Jackson, afterward the celebrated Stonewall, who told 
them they were not marching properly, and they fell into a more regular align- 
ment. He accompanied them to the hollow that crosses the street between the 
Institute and the courthouse. They were now confronted by Major Colston, one 
of their instructors and a person of magnetic influence. By a few brief words of 
command he made the column face about and march back to the barracks. A 


little later the hotheads were reprimanded by General Smith, who told them it 
was a flagrant violation of good order, whether civil or military, to take the 
punishment of their grievance into their own hands and perhaps cause innocent 
persons to sufTer. Meanwhile, Captain E. F. Paxton, of the local militia com- 
pany, had received notice that the cadets were on their way. Though a secession- 
ist himself, he did not flinch from his duty. Mis men, sevcnty-fivc in number, 
were given their arms, and were posted in windows and at other points of vantage 
with orders to fire if the cadets persisted in their rash design. The cadets would 
probably have e.\j)erienced a terrible loss of life and limb if they had not l>ecn 
brought under control by Colston. Besides the militia, there were some experi- 
enced marksmen in the town who had gathered in from the mountains. Had firing 
once Ix-gun it would have been well aimed. 

Francis T. Anderson, who was to speak at the raising of the Federal flag, 
was slow to appear and was sent for. His son found him in a law office closeted 
with perhaps twenty-five of the citizens. One of the number had received a tele- 
gram fmm Richmond with the news that Lincoln had called on each of the un- 
seceded states for a quota of men to put down the secession movement. .Ml the 
persons in the room had a very grave air and were engaged in earnest con- 
versation. Their conclusion was that there was only one thing to do, and that 
was for \'irginia to take her stand with the South. Mr. .Anderson presently went 
out upon the courtyard, and said in substance as he stood by the flagpole: "I love 
that flag. I-'or eighty years it has been the flag of my country. Under its folds, 
that country has grown rich and prosperous. Hut, fellow-citizens, that flag is 
now in the hands of our enemies." At this point the speaker was hissed, no 
inkling of the telegram having yet reached the throng. Rut after he had related 
the import of the message, and had given his view of its significance to the 
Southern people, he was cheered to the echo. Unionism had come to a sudden 
end in Rockbridge. May 2^T(^, the people of N'irginia voted on the ordinance of 
secession that had Inrcn adopted by the convention. In Rockbridge there was 
only a single negative vote in a total of 1,728. 

In reviewing the momentous year that came to such a well-defined close, it 
remains clear that the jh-o])1c of Rockbridge felt no general enthusiasm in the 
doctrine of secession; that they deeply disapproved the contluct of the cotton 
States ; that their aflfection for the Union was sincere ; and that they took up arms 
against the Federal government with regret. Hut their heritage of political 
thought taught them that the Union of their fathers was founded by consent 
and could not rightfully lie maintained except by consent. The coercion of a 
state by the central government was therefore foreign to their creed. They felt 
that the Union was virtually dissolve<l, that it was now their duty to stand by 
their state, and they took up this duty with a resolution worthy of their ancestral 


THE WAR OF 1861 

Opening Scenes — Military Organizations — Events of 1861-2 — Federal Raids — Hunter at 

Lexington — The War Years in Rockbridge — The Close — 

Documentary Paragraphs 

When the news of the firing on Fort Sumter reached Washington, President 
Lincoln called upon Virginia for 2,340 men as her quota for enforcing Federal 
jurisdiction in the seceded territory. The date of the proclamation was April 
17, 1861. The reply of Governor Letcher was a prompt refusal. The reply of 
the state was the passage by the state convention of an ordinance of secession. 
The news of these events reached Lexington the morning of Saturday, April 
20th, and this county found itself ushered into a war. 

In each section it was the prevalent opinion that a determined stand, backed 
by a display of military force, would overawe the other. Only those dis- 
cerning men who best understood the temper of their opponents felt assured 
that actual war was inevitable and that it would be severe and devastating. No 
one dreamed that 1,340 engagements would be fought in the Virginias, that more 
than 600,000 American soldiers would lose their lives, and that 400,000 others 
would be more or less crippled for life. Some persons regarded the coming 
clash of arms as though it were like an exciting picnic. Others regarded it with 
the most serious feelings. 

With the people of Rockbridge the leading issue was home rule as against 
the paramount authority of the Federal government. In the other issues, seces- 
sion and slavery, they were less interested. Of the four presidential candidates 
of the preceding year, Lincoln was looked upon as an enemy, Buchanan as a dis- 
honest coward, Breckenridge as a man who truckled to Kentucky Unionism. 
Bell was a passive spectator, yet gave his assent to the Confederate movement, 
and his followers in the Gulf states were active in its behalf. 

The situation between the free and the slave states had been tense an entire 
decade. Colonel Smith and several others of the faculty of the Virginia Military 
Institute, and nearly 100 of their cadets had formed part of the armed force of 
1,500 men that was assembled at Charlestown in the fall of 1859 to prevent any 
attempt to rescue John Brown. It was Colonel Smith himself who superintended 
the execution of Brown. A year earlier than this, he had been given orders under 
secrecy to double the guard of the arsenal, since there was a supposed plot to arm 
the negroes at the Pewe Iron Works near Lexington and set in motion a 
servile war. In the winter of 1860-61 there had been intense restlessness and 


some turbulence among the cadets. In the early half of April they were almost 
daily hoisting secession flags in spite of vigorous efforts to the contrary by the 

About this time a b:ichelor makes this comment in the Gazette on the attitude 
of the women : 

\Vc believe that it is a historical truth that the ladies of the South have from the be- 
Kinning of our trouble l)een in favor of secession. They sec by virtue of their superior 
intuition the propriety of the measure long before the dull and stolid brains of man could 
receive and respond to the impression of the necessity. Whilst men were reasoninR ujxm 
the subject and striving in vain to solve the difficult iirohlcni. the intuition of the ladies cut 
the Gordian knot 

J. B. Smith and J. E. Carson were advertising in the county papers that they 
had $100,000 to spend for likely young negroes. 

On Sunday, April 21st, the governor ordered Major Jackson to take a num- 
ber of cadets to Richmond to act as drill sergeants at Camp Lee, and on Monday 
the order was complied with. On Saturday an order had come for the volun- 
teer companies of Rockbridge to turn out. At one o'clock p. m., on a date given 
as Sunday, but which was probably Monday, the Rockbridge Rifles, 103 strong, 
started from Lexington. The Reverend Mr. Tibbs and the venerable Doctor 
McFarland gave them a benediction, all heads being uncovered and all eyes 
moistened with tears. Doctor White pronounced the benediction at the departure 
of the two companies of Rockbridge Dragoons, each al>out sixty strong. The 
destination of these commands was Harper's Terry. The officers of the Rifles 
were these: Captain, S. H. Letcher; First Lieutenant. Iv F. Paxton; Second 
Lieutenant. J. K. Ldmon<lb.on ; Third Lieutenant. \V. \V. Lewis; Fnurtb Lieuten- 
ant, D. L. Hopkins; Orderly Sergeant, J. C. I'oude. The following were the 
officers of the First Dragoons: M. X. White, Captain; J. S. Cumings, First Lieu- 
tenant ; Charles .Second Lieutenant; ^L Burks. Third Lieutenant; J. W. 
Moore, Orderly Sergeant. J. R. McXutt was Captain of the Second Dragoons. 
R. McChesney was First Lieutenant, and John Gibson was Third Lieutenant. 

When the cadets, aliout 150 strong, started to I^irhmond by way of Staun- 
ton, the Rockbridge Greys, about 100 in inmiber. were (|uartered at the Institute, 
awaiting orders. The Silver Greys were prompt to form a company and elect 
officers. The streets of Lexington took on an unusually active appearance. The 
citizens were \ct\ liberal in c(|uipping the soldiers, and a committee of them 
stood pledged to IcKik after the families of those who had gone to war. Accord- 
ing to the Gasette, a respected man of color set about raising a fund for this 

A meeting at Natural Bridge, presided over by Colonel J. 11. Paxton. 
adopted these resolutions: That a committee of seven men, one from each 

THE WAR OF 1861 125 

magisterial district, be appointed to receive subscriptions of money and materials 
for clothing; that R. li. Catlett be quartermaster and J. H. Myers, treasurer; that 
able-bodied young men, to the number of not more than 200, and who desire 
to serve their country, be requested to report at once to Colonel Davidson at 
Lexington; that William Dold be a connnissary to secure supplies for the soldiers 
awaiting orders in Lexington. 

May 3rd, a flag was presented to the Artillery Company, J. D. Davidson 
making the speech. Responses were given by Captain Pendleton and Sergeant 
J. C. Davis. June 8th, the ladies of the Falling Springs congregation presented 
a beautiful flag to the Liberty Hall \'olunteers, who were pronounced "one of 
the finest looking bodies of men sent from this portion of the state." The com- 
pany marched the same day with Professor White as their captain. At this time, 
Washington College, with sixty-nine students on its roll, closed for the remainder 
of the session. Three days earlier, the Rockbridge Guards, seventy-five strong, 
left Brownsburg under command of Captain David P. Curry. In a little more 
than a week the ladies of that village and its vicinity had made coats, trowsers, 
knapsacks, haversacks, cloth caps, and covered canteens for eighty men, besides 
ten tents and 140 fatigue shirts of gray cloth. All the men were provided with 
shoes and socks. 

W'ithin twenty weeks from the marching of the cadets, the Lexington papers 
could announce that Rockbridge had supplied her full quota of volunteers. 

All in all, the following organizations were furnished by this county to the 
Confederate service : two batteries of artillery, four companies of cavalry, seven 
companies of infantry, a company of rangers, senior and junior reserves to the 
number of ninety, and 206 men on miscellaneous duty, making a total of 2,343. 
Of these, 250 were killed in battle, 169 died in service, and 463 others were 
wounded, making a total in casualties of 882, or Z7 .7 per cent. ; almost precisely 
three men out of eight. Included in this number, however, are 288 men of 
other counties who enlisted in the Rockbridge organizations. Another statement 
places the number of Rockbridge men at 2.154. 

In 1900, after six years of toil, J. P. Moore, J, S. Moore, and W. T. Poague 
compiled a list of the Rockbridge soldiers. They announced that absolute accur- 
acy could not be assured ; that several names probably appear twice in their 
list, that the miscellaneous list is probably deficient, that not all the names of the 
Senior Reserves could be secured, and that the enumeration of casualties may 
be incomplete. P)Ut since the list is quite nearly accurate, it is a monument to 
the diligence of these veterans. The senior reserves did not include men under 
forty-five, and few of them could have been living. Junior reserves were under 
eighteen years of age. 

The Rockhridije commands were in the \'irginia campaigns, and most of them 


were in many battles. The first to rcspund was the Rockbridge Rifles, which was 
organized November 17, ISS*^', immediately after the John Brown affair. It wias 
first o^sigiK-d to the 5th X'irginia, but was .sckjii transferred to tlie 4th, and just 
after First Manassas, in wliicli it lost fifteen men, to the 27th. It was in twenty- 
four engagements, I-'aJling Waters being the first and Appomattox the last, where 
it surrendered thirty-three men. It had contained in all 140 men, and the pre- 
ceding casualties were fifty-six. This company was often employed in sharp- 
shooting service. 

The Rockbridge Battery marched fmrn Lexington, M.iy 10, 1861, with alxjut 
seventy men and two small six-pounders from the Institute. Two other guns 
WTrc given to it at Harper's Ferry. One of its guns was all the Confederate 
artillery in the affair at I-alling Waters, and its fire was very accurate and 
effective. This conuiiand had the reputation of being one of the best in the 
Army of Northern Virginia, and at no time did it lack for recruits. Of its mem- 
bership forty-five were commissioned as officers and assigned to other companies. 
John McCausland, its first captain, rose to the rank of major-general. The 
command was in twenty-one battles and sustained 147 casualties, yet surrendered 
ninety-six men at Appomattox.* 

The First Dragoons was organized at Fancy Hill May 1(>. 185'', by Capt.iin 
L. V. Davidson. 

The Lil>erty Hall Volunteers — Company I of the 4th \'irginia Infantry — 
were organized at Washington College and served in the Stonewall Brigade. 
The company was in thirty-two battles and lost 146 men, one of whom — .\. B. 
Ramsay — was wounded on four different occasions. At First Kcmstown the 
\'olunteers were almost annihilated. -At Sharpsburg they lost three out of the 
five who were engaged. At Chancellorsville they lost nineteen out of twenty- 
eight, and after the engagement of May 12, 1864, at Spottsylvania, only two men 
were left. 

Company II of the 25th \'irginia Infantry, organized at Wilson's Springs, 
won fame as good marksmen and hard fighters. In the battle of McDowell, it 
lost twenty men out of thirty-five, every commissioned officer Iwing put out of 

The Rockbridge Greys of the Stonewall Brigade came principally fron) 
within a radius of five miles around Buffalo Forge. They were armed at the 
start with the very light cadet nnisket, but later with the Enfield. Their first 
battle was I-"irst Manassas, where they lost nineteen men out of sixty-four. 

Company E of the- 52nd Virginia Infantry was composed entirely of Rock- 

•r**- Sinry of a Conin<nefr. by lulward A. Moore, of llic Rockbridge Artillery— a de- 
IccniUnt of General Andrew Xtoorc — it a vivid and rcaliittic preicntalion of war an ncen 
by • private toldier, and hai been kindly mentioned by liierary critic*. 

THE WAR OF 1861 127 

bridge men from the 8th and 144lh regiments of the militia. It was organized 
at Staunton, August 1, 1861, upon the disbanding of the miHtia organization. It 
fought under Jackson and was in fourteen battles, losing fifty-two men. 

Company G of the 58th Virginia was mustered in at Staunton, also on 
August 1, 1861. All but about nine of its members were from Kerr's Creek. 
This company served under General Edward Johnson in Pocahontas and High- 
land, and was in the battle of McDowell. Thenceforward it was in Jackson's 
corps. Its leading engagements were twenty-three, and it numbered sixty men 
at Appomattox. 

Company G of the 14th Cavalry, organized in 1862, included nineteen men 
from this county, twelve of whom were original members of the Greys. 

Company C of the same cavalry regiment was organized in 1862, and was 
largely made up of men who had already served in the Rockbridge Second 
Dragoons and the Churchville Cavalry. It was larger than the army regulations 
permitted, and a portion was formed into Company H. 

For more than three years Rockbridge was not penetrated by any Federal 
column. Yet as early as the June of the first year of the war there was a wild 
rumor that a force of Federal cavalry was on its way from Ohio to destroy the 
Virginia Military Institute. There were then no hostile troops nearer than the 
vicinity of the Ohio river, and still the report was enough to bring out about 120 
men at Brownsburg and fifty-five at J. W. Youell's on Walker's Creek. July 
brought anxious moments. Men from this county fought at F"alling Waters, the 
ojiening engagement in the Shenandoah, at Rich Mountain, where the first serious 
fighting took place in West \'irginia, and at First Manassas, where twelve Rock- 
bridge men were killed and thirty-six wounded. During the remaining months 
of 1861 there was but slight military activity in the Virginias. 

At the opening of May, 1862, the army of Banks, nearly 20,000 strong, was 
lying at Harrisonburg, only forty miles from the Rockbridge line, and Staunton 
was threatened. The cadets were called out to aid in the successful repelling of 
the Federal advance, and after the battle of Port Republic on June 9th, the county 
was relieved of further apprehension for some months. Tiie field crops were 
good, both in 1861 and 1862. But the depreciation already creeping into the 
Confederate currency was reflected in the rise of the private soldier's pay to 
$15.00 a month. 

With one exception the principal threats to the county were from the Federal 
cavalry under General .^verill. The first of these raids was late in August, 
1863. Averill left Winchester the 5th of that month and reached Callaghan 
Station near Covington twenty days later, after destroying the saltpeter works 
along his route. Colonel W. L. Jackson had 900 men at Millboro, and intended 
to make a stand at I'anther Gap. Two companies of cadets and one company 


of home guards marcticd lo Goshen, but as Avcrill did not turn eastward, the 
rccn f orccnient returned to Ixxington after an absence of two days. 

lilarly in Xovcinber Avcrill was again at Callaghan. Imlxxlcn took pi'sition 
a mile east of Covington, where he was joined on the morning of the 9th by 
Colonel Shipp with 225 cadets and one rifled gun and by Colonel Massie with 
575 of the home guards. liight companies of these were mounted. /Vverill 
retired toward Iluntersviile. but thinking a flank movement was the real purpose, 
Imbodcn took a diagonal course and marched to Goshen. He thus saved the six 
or eight very necessary blast furnaces. At Armentrout's, Imboden dismissed the 
cadets and the guards. 

Only one month later there was a third and more serious raid. With both 
cavalry and artillery. .Avcrill was once more at Callaghan. December 14lh. De- 
feated in the battle of Droop Mountain, Xoveniber 6th. General John Echols 
had fallen back to Union, where on the night of the 14th lie was joined by 
McCausland from the Narrows of New River. A Federal force under Colonel 
Scamnion had occupied Lewisburg. Hut .Xvcrill found Jackson's River unford- 
ablc. General I'itzhugh Lee with two of his brigades advanced from Char- 
lottesville to cover Staunton, and was joined by Imboden on Shenandoah Moun- 
tain. General lilarly came also to Staimton and took command. .Averill was at 
Sweet .Springs on the 15th. Hy marching eighty miles in thirty hours, he struck 
the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad at Salem and did great damage. Meanwhile, 
l-ce was ordered in pursuit. Colonel Jackson was directed to take position at 
Clifton Forge, and Echols on Sweet Springs Mountain. .Again Shipp and Massie 
marched with the cadets and the home guards. The latter reached Goshen on 
the 17th, but was ordered to countermarch in haste and guard the bridges over the 
Buffalo. Hy noon on the next day he was joined at Lexington by Lee with 
2.700 men. and by Imboden. The combined force advanced to Collierstown and 
camped. Averill circulated the report that he would return by way of Buchanan 
and I^e was ordered to that town. But .Averill moved to Newcastle, which he 
reached on sunset of the 18th. He was told that Lee was at I'incastle and 
Jones between him and Sweet Springs. By great nimblencss of movement, and 
with the help of a doctor knowIe<lge of the mountain roads proved cx- 
cec«lingly inconvenient to the pursuers, .Averill slipped l>etween the Confederate 
commands and escaped by way of Covington. These o|>crations covered one 
week, which was a time of cold rains an<l swollen rivers, and consequcnity of 
great hardship to all the soldiers concerned. 

During the winter of 1863-64, the l-aurel Brigade of General Kosser was 
qtjartercd at Buffalo Forge. It broke camp .April lllh. 

Early in May. \fVA, (jeneral Crook was joimd hy .Averill at L'nion. General 
Jenkins was defeated by him at Cloyd Mountain and at New River Bridge, where 

^■*"*^«SiB»r:-'^ •'*'^^ 

Uku.nzk SiATLt 01 Stonkuali. Jaiksu.n in LtxiNoroN Ckmeterv 



THE WAR OF 1861 129 

the railroad to Tennessee was again damaged. Crook then marched to Staunton 
by way of Greenbrier. 

General Sigel, who commanded the Federals at New Market, was of German 
birth, and his record as a military leader is indifferent. He was superseded 
by General David Hunter, who won a victory at Piedmont, June 5th, where 
General W. E. Jones, the Confederate leader, was killed. Two days later Hunter 
occupied Staunton without opposition, the Confederates falling back to Rockftsh 
Gap to protect Charlottesville. The railroad for three miles on each side of 
Stainiton was destroyed. The next day he was joined by Crook and Averill, who 
struck the Virginia Central at Goshen and wrecked it as they came along. June 
10th Hunter began his advance to Lexington in four parallel columns, and 
reached the Rockbridge line by nightfall. Soon after noon the next day he had 
come to North River, the 1,400 cavalry under McCausland being too light a 
force tu hinder his progress in any marked degree. The Confederates fell back 
through Lexington, leaving the bridge over North River in flames. The black- 
ened timbers were falling into the current as the Federals came up. Their 
passage was disputed by some artillery and by sharpshooters on the bluff at the 
Institute and in storehouses near the river. In his report Hunter calls McCaus- 
land imsoldierly in risking the destruction of the town by a superior force. He 
had thirty guns, some of which unlimbered on high ground and dropped a few 
shells around the Institute and into the lower course of Main Street. But the 
skirmish at the river was a small incident, the Federals losing only four men. A 
pontoon was thrown across below the road, and before the close of the day 
the town was in their possession. Two of their officers. Colonel Hayes and 
Major McKinley, were subsequently presidents of the United States. The 
retreat of McCausland was hastened by Averill, who crossed the river eight miles 
above the town. 

The next morning witnessed the most regrettable incidents of the raid. 
General Hunter was a stern soldier, harsh toward a foe, and had an almost 
irresistible propensity to burn private as well as public buildings. Soldiers are 
quick to take their cue from their commander-in-chief, and the rudeness shown by 
many of Hunter's men was largely a reflection of the vindictiveness for which the 
general was well known. 

On this day, and not so soon as Hunter had intended it, the \'irginia Mili- 
tary Institute and the house of Governor Letcher were burned. The cadets 
had been sent against the Federal forces whenever opportunity presented itself. 
Under the generally accepted usages of the civilized nations of 1864, it was per- 
missible to render the buildings unserviceable to them in a military sense. But 
this school is and always has been fundamentally scientific, the military feature 
being as incidental as it is in many of the colleges and academies of the present 


day. That the burning of the recitation rooms, the library, and the scientific 
apparatus was unwarrantable was ofTicially admitted by the National government 
subsequently paying the Institute $100,000, which, however, was less than one- 
half the estimated damages. Xcverthelcss, Hunter made an almost dean sweep, 
sparing only the house of the superintendent, where two sick girls were lying. 
Hunter intended to burn Washington College also, but linally yielded to the 
representations of one of the oldest of the alumni. Nevertheless the buildings 
were plundered and damaged, especially with respect to the library and the 
laboratory e<|uipnu'nt, but restitution was made in 1887 to the extent of $17,000. 

The burning of the fine residence of John Letcher was a wanton act. Hunter 
alleges that it was done by way of reprisal, and because of an "inflammatory 
proclamation" urging the people of Rockbridge to turn themselves into bush- 
whackers. Liut Letcher was no longer governor of \irginia. His appeal was 
that of a private citizen. We have not seen the document, but we feel assured 
that it did not sanction any form of resistance not generally recognized as 
legitimate. Mr. Letcher could not have been so unwise and shortsighted as to 
advise a course of action that would cause needless suflering to his people. 
General Hunter made the most of some very poor excuses, and his incendiarism 
was against the express instructions of President 1-incoln. It was discounten- 
anced by many of his own officers, so far they could do so without exposing them- 
selves to a charge of insubordination. 

Hunter's army remained in Lexington until about daybreak on ilu- tnoiuing 
of June 14lh. It made beefsteak of the cows in and around the town, and 
developed an extraordinary appetite for the acres of onions planted for the 
Confederate soldiery. The cadets, alwut 250 strong, had marched to Ralcony 
I'alls to assist in holding that pass. The Federal army pushed on to Buchanan, 
on its way to Lynchburg, in an attempt to capture that important place. In its 
march through the rural districts it caused much uneasiness, but we are told 
that the behavior of the soldiers was better than in 1-exington. Hunter bunied 
about a half-dozen each of furnaces and canal barges, and carried away a 
few prisoners, five guns, some amnnmition. and the statue of Washington that 
was on the college tower. Whether the bell of the Institute was carried away 
or wa.H buried in the debris of the ruins we are not informed. By the standards 
of 1861-64, the treatment of Lexington by Hunter was severe. Yet it was 
not a circumstance to what would have Ix-en its fate had it been entered by a 
Orman army of the present war. The town would have been burned to the 
ground after the residences had been looted; scores of the inhabitants, without 
distinction of age or sex. would have been maimed or massacred; the able- 
bodied males would have Ik-cu carried away into virtual slavery. an<l many of the 
females would have been carried away for a not necessary to particularize. 

THE WAR OK 1861 131 

In the brief interval between the firing on Sumter and the first passage at 
arms in Virginia, the Gazette took occasion to deprecate "the tarring, etc., of 
those voters who are against the ordinance of secession, as subversive of law and 
order. If a free citizen is not to be allowed to exercise his free will in casting his 
vote, then the submission of the question is mere mockery. Many of our best 
citizens still believe the border states have not adopted the best method of 
redressing their grievances. Whilst they cannot conscientiously change their 
opinion, toss up their caps and huzza for secession, they are ready to defend 
Virginia with the last drop of their blood. We are personally acquainted with 
the sentiments of some sterling men, whom we have heard assailed as abolitionists 
by flippant coxcombs and silly misses." 

At the close of 1864 the War Department of the Confederacy estimated 
that there were 50,000 deserters from its armies in the mountain districts of the 
South. Some of these were in this county. In August, 1863, Lieutenant Wise 
was sent out with fifty of the cadets to scour the hills, but returned the next day 
without meeting any success whatever. The mountain paths were far more un- 
familiar to them than to the refugees. 

More than one-seventh of the white population of Rockbridge was absent in 
the Confederate army, and as the greater portion of the farmers were not slave- 
holders, there was a distressing shortage of labor. The hardships which the 
people at home were called upon to undergo were very great. Fencing was 
burned for campfires, and fields thus became commons. There was a progressive 
deterioriation of the roads. Many of the people became very poorly clad, even 
after bedding had been made into wearing apparel. Maple sirup and sorghum 
sirup took the place of sugar. Many a meal consisted only of corn bread, roasted 
potatoes, and rye cof?ee, and even then there was a scarcity of corn. Foodstuffs 
were hidden to escape the thief as well as the impressing agent, and it was very 
unsafe to tell where such articles were concealed. The informant was some- 
times put out of the way. Deserters and slackers were tolerated because of the 
fear that they would burn the home of the one who would tell about them. As 
for the hungry soldier, he was much the same, whether Federal or Confederate. 

As early as August, 1862, the depreciation in the paper currency was causing 
prices to soar. But in the summer of 1864, a yard of linsey sold at $25 00, and 
other ariic'es in proportion. Postage was five cents for a less distance than 
500 miles, and ten cents for a greater distance. However, depreciation was not 
the only trouble with the prices. Governor Letcher's message of September 2h, 
1862, contains this vigorous denunciation of the profiteer : 

A reckless spirit for money-making appears to have taken entire possession of the 
public mind. Patriotism is second to a love of the Almighty Dollar. The price of every- 
thing is put to tlie highest point. What must be the feelings of a man who is fighting the 


battle* of the country, when he is receiving but $11.00 per month, is informed that a pair of 
ladies' shoes costs $16.00, with everything else in proportion? With what heart can he 
fight our battles under such circumstances? 

There were other complaints of extortion. A local paper said Rockbrid'je 
was overrun with speculators and hucksters, who were stripping the country 
of almost everything necessary to human existence. Provisions of any kind 
could hardly be had for love or money. Thousands of barrels of flour, pur- 
chased at $15.00, were stored at Lynchburg and Richmond for sale at $30.00. 

After four years of progressive privation, the return of peace was a relief. 
A meeting held at Stauntun. May 8, 1865, declared the people of Augusta county 
ready to conform to the laws of the United States. Even before Appomattox, 
one of the men representing Virginia in the Confederate Senate had expressed 
himself in favor of a reunion of the states. Wreck and ruin were visible 
in every direction, and it was a large task to remove the signs. Yet such was the 
energy and the recuperative power of the Rockbridge people that the process 
of restoration was rapid, and in five years it was fairly complete. In commerce 
the recovery was faster than in farming. Hut during the twelve months fol- 
lowing the surrender of General Lee, little money was to be seen except 
specie, and there was a tendency to hold coin in reserve. 

In the first years of the war the rich could |)«rchase exemption for their 
own sons, and it was due to this discrimination that even yet the war is sometimes 
referred to as "the rich man's war and the poor man's fight." But substitution 
was at length al>olished. The outcome of the great conflict put the aristixrat on 
his mettle and he went to work. 

If 1870 found economic recovery measurably complete in Rockbridge, it also 
marked the end for \'irginia of that unsavory episode in American history 
known as the Reconstruction Period. In 1868 \irginia was .Military District 
Number One, and it was not able to take part in the general election of that 
year. A few months later the carpet-l)ag regime was overthrown, and in 
January, 1870, the state was again a member of the I'ederal Union. 

To give a further insight into the events of the four years of war, we devote 
the remainder of this chapter to extracts from the county order-books and the 
newspaper files. 

All justices present, Jklay 9th, to consider the subject of arming the militia, according 
lo the Act of January 19lh. The following orders were issued : 

An issue of county Imndt to the amount of not more than $25,000, and in sums of not 
le»« ■ The Ixinds to be rcgislerrd and numbered, signed by the presiding juttire 

and n'licd by the clerk, and made (layable lo the treasurer. Interest payable semi- 


THE WAR uy 1801 133 

William Dold, Joseph G. Steele, and John D. Paxton constituted a committee to carry 
the above order into effect, and to deposit the money thus reaHzed with the Bank of Lex- 

Whenever the colonel, lieutenant-colonel, and first major — or any two of them — of 
either militia regiment shall certify that at least sixty efficient men are organized into a 
volunteer company, and that the assistance of the county is needed to equip the company, a 
warrant to that effect is to be issued, but not for more than $25.00 per soldier. 

The commissioners shall provide quarters and subsistance while such companies are 
drilling, such expense not to exceed $20.00 per soldier ; likewise subsistance, and transporta- 
tion to rendezvous if ordered into service. 

The justices of the several districts — or any two of them — may ascertain the wants of 
the families of men who are in service, and see that requisite necessaries are supplied, and 
make report monthly. The sum to be thus used is not to exceed $5,000. 

Reports to be turned in at each term of court. 

The foregoing orders to be published in the Lexington Gazette and the I'allcy Star. 

Ordered, June 3rd, that a Home Guard be organized, the same to include all the white 
males able to serve and who have taken the oath of fidelity to the Commonwealth. The 
Guards to patrol their several neighborhoods with a view to the preservation of peace 
and quiet, and to be empowered to arrest and bring before a justice all persons, white 
or black, whom they may have reason to suspect of improper purposes, or violation of the 
Ordinance of Secession. 

Abraham Doubt, slave of Mrs. Hennetta Ruff, cleared of the charge of inciting servile 
insurrection, but not of that of making seditious speeches. Ordered that he be given thirty- 
nine lashes on the bare back at the whipping post. 

A levy ordered of six cents per $100 on land and personalty, and eighteen cents on each 
slave over twelve years old, the avails to be applied to the interest on the bonds and the 
payment of the first instalment. Another levy, of seventy cents per $100 of land and 
personalty, was to pay interest on the county's subscription to the Xorth River Navigation 

The road levy was fixed at $1.50 in money or two days in labor. 

The July court reduced the minimum bond to $20.00. 


In March and April 385 men were exempted from military service because of physical 
disqualification. Ninety-six others were exempted as being millers, overseers, blacksmiths, 
etc. There were ninety-three refusals. 

A bond issue of $10,000 ordered in May to relieve the families of volunteers and the 

Robert J. White was appointed salt agent, and was authorized to buy not more than 
10,000 bushels, the faith of the county being pledged to the payment. 


In January there was a further issue, by a vote of eleven against ten, for the relief of 
soldier families. In the further distribution of relief, ordered that the weekly allowance, 
paid in money, be $1.25 to a wife, seventy-five cents for each girl over the age of twelve, and 
fifty cents for each child under twelve. 

An order of $10,000 in county notes was ordered, the issue to be in the denominations 
of one dollar, fifty cents, twenty-five cents, fifteen cents, and ten cents. 

In January there were 608 slaves in the county between the ages of eighteen and forty- 
five, who were liable to be drafted for work on fortifications. Tlie apportionment was 


to be made by a committee of justices, one from each district. The slaves were to be 
valued. The number actually drafted was 266. 

In September the shcrifT was to enroll all male slaves, including rfusecs, between the 
•get of eighteen and fifty-five, to fill a requisition for work on forts. 292 were furnished, 
out of the 701 who were liable. 


Substitution was abolished in January by an Act of the Confederate Congress. 

A. S. Bacon, forty-seven years of age, was appointed General Agent and Storekeeper 
for Rockbridge, giving bond in the sum of $50,000. He was directed to borrow, on the 
faith of the county, to the amount of not more than $50,000, and to purchase cotton yarns 
and cloths, and other articles of prime necessity- While thus employed he was to have a 
salary of $J(X) a month, over .ind al>ove his expenses, and was to make a report at each 
term of court. In February he asked whether, in the existing condition of the country, 
he should continue his cfTorts. He was directed to use his own discretion. 

There was a call, February 1st, for ninety slaves to work on the forts around Richmond. 
The court thought they should be kept at home to work the farms, fortify the mountain 
passes, and aid in preventing the raids that were always threatening the county. Raids 
had already taken place in the i)rcccdinK year in the months of June, ,\uBust. November, 
and Dcccml)er, and another invasion was likely to occur at any time, The governor of the 
state was asked to exempt the county from the requisition. 

Supplies extremely scarce in .April. Agents cannot buy enough for the indigent families. 
1,300 |>ersons are dependent on public support. 4,950 bushels of corn and 660 barrels of 
flour are needed before August 1st. The court certifies that the supplies asked are neces- 
sary. It is represented to that body that corn and wheat may l>e purchased at the depots of 
the tax-in-kind of the Confederate government. Bacon is instructed to spend as much of 
the $50,000 as will relieve the want, refugees and sojourners licing included. 

The court asks that the deputy sheriffs now liable to service l>c exempted. Three are 
required, outbreaks l>einK daily on the increase. For more than thirty years four deputies 
have been constantly engaged. The county has over 18,000 people, and is broken and moun- 

In April it is stated that certain citizens are believed to bc^ evading the impressment of 
supplies. Impressment agents are required to call upon the sheriff, or any constable, and 
such official is authorized to summon any number of citizens to take impressed articles by 
force. A refusal to so assist will be contempt of court. 

Several murders and attempts at murder during the year, 

A committee was ap|>ninted June 6th to visit the battlefields near Staunton and Rich- 
mond to look after wounded Rockbridge soldiers. Another committee is in the field to 
collect supplies and forward them to the first committee. 

During Hunter's raid, thirty or more barrels of flour— left in certain milts— were carried 

In November another issue of $50,000 in bonds for the relief of indigents. 

Severe drouth in the summer and very meagre crop. 5icarcely enough supplies in the 
county for home needs. 

1,500 men in the county on government wages. 

Gimplainl in October that tanneries are paying only five cents per |iound for hides, 
btit atking from sixty cents and upward for leather. 
Schools langoithing. 

THE WAR OF 1861 1>^5 


Prices in August: flour, $8.00; corn, $1.00; oats, fifty cents; butler, twenty-five to 
thirty cents ; bacon, thirty-five cents ; beef, nine to twelve cents ; eggs, fifteen cents. 

"If every part of the Confederacy has as many idle young men in it as this quiet httle 
town of Lexington, we might raise a splendid army in addition to the forces now in the 
field." — Canette, August 14. 

The Natural Bridge Aid Society sent $150 to the relief of the wounded of the 12th 
Georgia at McDowell. 

Public schools partially or entirely closed for more than a year. Private schools fully 
sustained. Ann Smith Academy reorganized with Mrs. George D. Baskerville as principal. 
The Rev. Mr. Trimble's school at Brownsburg now in its third year and more flourishing 
than ever before. — .August 21. 

Good crops in the Valley of Virginia. 

Candles seventy-five cents a pound. Why not sub.stitute an hour of the morning for an 
hour of the evening? 

About ISO of the Rockbridge Dragoons surprised and captured in the west of Green- 
brier, about December 1st, by the Federal cavalry. 


Farm produce five times as high as usual. Things purchased, ten times as high. — 
February 2. 

Wood, per cord, $12.00.— March 5. 

Native dyes, copperas being a requisite in each instance; The root and bark of sassafras, 
a beautiful yellow and orange; kalmia (dwarf laurel), a drab; willow bark, a deep blue- 
black on wool and linen, a dark slate on cotton ; bark and root of red oak, a chocolate brown ; 
pine bark, a slate (on cotton) ; pine with kalmia, a dove; sweet gum bark, a dove; maple, 
a purple; beech bark, a dove; leaves and berries of sumach, a black; white oak, a lead (on 
cotton), but will not dye wool. 

200,000 pounds of bacon in the county — .April 15. 

As a candidate for the Confederate Congress, Baldwin has 676 votes and Letecher 526. 

253 cadets in the Virginia Military Institute, May 6th, and more wish to come in. 
Sixty students at Washington College. 

Seventy-five families in Lexington will need bread this winter, and 1(K) will need fuel 
to the amount of 500 cords. ISO families in the corporation produce no foodstuflfs. 

Lexington House sells for $100,000 in January. 

Many farmers on half rations of meat so as to send meat to the army. 
Matrimonial advertisement by one of Rosser's soldiers. 
Several smokehouses robbed in April. 
English stationery on sale at one of the stores. 
Large wheat crop, considering the reduction in the supply of labor. 



War of 1917 

More than half a century has now elapsed since the great war of the 60's. 
In this county the period has brought a progressive transformation, greater and 
more striking in its aggregate results than was witnessed in the equal number of 
years just preceding. 

In October, 1868, a local paper remarks that greenbacks were iKcoining fairly 
plentiful and that the merchants were laying in heavy stocks of goods. In the 
same month the Rockbridge Agricultural and Mechanical Society roused itself 
from its war eclipse and held a fair continuing three days. The new beginning 
was kept up, and notwithstanding the fact that the whole country was in 1R74 
in the throes of a severe business depression, the fair of tliat year was (juito 

In 1890 Rockbridge fell a victim to the speculative mania known as a boom. 
The visitation created an important town at Buena V^ista and was not entirely 
unsuccessful at Glasgow or at the county seat. The amount of money that was 
forthcoming to be invested in "development" stock and town lots was a significant 
commentary on the rapid recuperation that had taken place in twenty-five years. 
In fact, the asses.sed valuation for 1877 was greater by $2,000,000 than the 
value of farms, farm machinery, and livestock in 1850. By 1917 the valuation 
of real and personal property had risen from $5,785,786 to $8,533,920, exclusive 
of Buena Vista. 

During the reconstruction episode the "Yankee" was not a popular personage. 
In 1869 wc hear the complaint that pedlers from the North were representing 
themselves as Englishmen. However, when Colonel Waite came from Batavia. 
New York, in 1873 to visit his old friends the Davidsons, he could report that 
he was treated in the most friendly and courteous manner, although he saw- 
many ex-soldiers who were lame or otherwise disabled. He observed that the 
negro was inclined to flock to the towns, thus causing a scarcity of lalnir. although 
many were still in the em|)loy of their former masters. He found slavery unrc- 
gretted, yet found the opinion general that the enfranchisement of the bl.ncks. 
in the way it was acc<>nji)lishcd. w.ts a |M)litical blunder. Two years after the 
visit of Colonel Waite, John I^yburn remarked that "no well disposed Northerner 
need fear as to a kindly reception." Two years later yet. a county pa|>er was 
wishing that mor.- results might come from ciTorts to attract immigration from 



the North. It remained for the dastardly shooting of President Garfield to 
eh"cit tlie following remark from the Gazette: 

No event in American history has so unified the people as the shot at Garfield. We have 
discovered all at once that we are Americans. The Union has been restored. The Republic 
lives. Guiteau's bullets have done more to show the people of these United States what 
manner of men they are than anything that has happened in their history. The spontaneous 
outburst of Southern indignation speaks too plainly to be misunderstood. 

In announcing the death of the president, C. M. Dold, mayor of Lexington, 
requested that business be suspended for the day, and that at four o'clock the 
citizens should assemble at the Presbyterian church, the largest in the town. 
The schools were also suspended, minute guns were fired at the Institute, and 
the religious services at the church were largely attended. 

By a majority of forty-four votes, one precinct not reporting, Rockbridge 
declared itself adverse to the Constitutional Convention of 1902. But the changes 
embodied in the state constitution of that year met with general approval. Three 
years later the County Nervs deprecated airing the race issue on the stump. 

During the few decades that the Whig party was a factor in American 
politics. Rockbridge gave majorities for that ticket. Wc are without precise 
knowledge of the political complexion of the county in the early period of the 
nineteenth century. 

The close of hostilities in 1865 found the Whig party in high favor in the 
South because of its far-sighted attitude respecting secession in 1860-61. Its 
opponent, generally in the lead in these states, was under some reproach because 
of the results of its sponsorship of that issue. The way seeiued open for two 
strong parties to exist in the South as well as in the North. But with a pro- 
found lack of broad vision, the ultra partisan element that came to the front after 
the assassination of Lincoln pursued a course which almost solidified the whites 
of the South in a support of the Democratic party. In 1873 the Democratic 
candidate for the governorship had more than twice as many votes in Rockbridge 
as his opponent, the latter carrying only one precinct. In the presidential contest 
of 1876 Tilden had 2505 votes and Hayes only 903. When the Democracy of 
\'irginia divided on the state debt issue, the Readjuster wing was the stronger 
in this county, and its majority in 1879 was about 200. Yet in 1881 the Readjuster 
candidate as governor ran behind his popular opponent by ninety-one votes, al- 
though he carried seven precincts. 

Many of the Readjusters went over to the Republican party, and for more 
than twenty years Rockbridge lay in the doubtful column. In 18S0 the Republican 
candidate for the governorship had a majority of sixty-eight. In 1884 the 
Democratic majority for Cleveland was 101, and in 1892 it was 230. But Mc- 
Kinley's majority was 660 in 1896, and 553 in 1900. In 1901 the state ticket 


sliowcd a Republican majority of 142 In 189.V Yost for Conprcss had a 
majority over Tucker of scventy-scvcn 

The constitution of 1902 had in KiH;kbrid>;c a twofold ctTcct. It caused a 
great reduction in the aggregate vote, and as this reduction made a heavier in- 
road upon the Republican column than upon the Democratic, the county no 
longer stands in the doubtful list. Thus in 1894. 1900. and 1901. the CDinbincd 
votes for the two leading candidates were respectively 3.945. 3,968, and 3.450. It 
is therefore evident tliat the average election brought out fully eighty per cent, 
of the voting population. But in the first election under the new system — that of 
1903— the total vote had fallen to 1.895. In 1913 it was only 780. In 1912. 
however, it to 1.837. 1.106 votes going to Wilson. 474 to Taft. and 257 
to Roosevelt. In 1916 the Democratic candidate for the Assembly carried 
thirteen precincts and had 1.030 votes. His Republican coiiii>ilitor c.irried eight 
precincts and had 835 votes. In the same year Wilson had 1,205 votes and 
Hughes 678. The west side of the county remains a Republican stronghold. 

The period we arc consiclcring has brought a number of important changes. 
The census of 1870 was defective in the Southern states, but on the face of the 
returns there was a significant loss in population in this county for the decade 
1860-70 of 1.190. Ik'tween 1870 and 1910. there was a gain of fifty-two per 
cent., or, if the figures for 1860 be compared with those for 1910. the gain was 
forty-two per cent. However, much the greater share of this gain is absorln-d by 
the increase in the town and village population. In the neighborhoods strictly 
rural the gain has been small. 

The canal has gone into disuse, there have been great inroads upon the 
forest supply, and the smelting of iron keeps in the closest touch with the rail- 
way siding. But with the exception of the old line of the Chesa]H'ake and 
Ohio, all the railroad mileage in the comity has come into operation since 1880. 
If mining has relatively decreased, manufacturing has greatly increased. If there 
is no conspicuous increase in the tilled .icreagc. the local agriculture has ad- 
vanced in output, antl there is a more general recognition of scientific methods. 
The silo and the commercial orchard have appeared, and the canning industry is 
gaining a foothold. The log house is not extinct, and inhabited six-cimens will 
he foun<l in Rockbridge al)out as long as anywhere in Xirginia; but very many 
of the farm homes are roomy, comfortable, attractive, and modern. 

The pay schotjl has yielded to the free school, and the latter is efTicicntly 
.idministered. The higher educational institutions of the county were never in a 
more prosperous cr)ndition. 

The telephone, the automobile, and free rural delivery, unknown in the early 
Years of the period, are deeply modifying the habits of the people. The taxable 
wealth is greater than in the n>ost p.ilmv d.Tvs of the antebellum era. even with its 
slave valuation. 



With a colored laboring class nearly one-third as numerous as the white 
population, there was necessarily a jar in the adjustment to the changed labor 
system that began in 1865. But the whites went to work so manfully that in a 
few years the deeper traces of the war were obliterated. Hired service is no 
longer under any social ban. Between 1900 and 1910, the colored element de- 
creased nearly one-third, and Rockbridge has assumed much of the appearance of 
a community that is wholly white. Yet it does not by any means follow that the 
negro will totally disappear. In the Rockbridge of today the colored people are, 
on the whole, orderly, industrious, and prosperous. 

In a larger degree than was usual in the Valley counties, the old Rockbridge 
was noted for its fine country estates, owned by an old family element that was 
numerous, cultured, and influential. This class has relatively declined, much of it 
having been attracted to the cities and to other states. The less wealthy class 
of whites has perhaps come nearer to holding its own, and a new element has 
slowly yet steadily been coming in. In consequence, there is a very perceptible 
difference between the Rockbridge of yesterday and the Rockbridge of today. 

The citizen of this county is industrious and hospitable, and is conservative 
in thought and action. His local patriotism is deep, and it leads him to draw a 
distinction between the descendant of the early settler and the resident born in 
some other community. 

In 1914 the world was prosperous. With only one conspicuous exception 
all the members of the family of nations had a sincere desire to live in peace 
with one another. Yet a rich and thriving country of Europe, acting through 
a subservient neighbor, deliberately provoked a general war. and waged it with 
a studied cruelty which would have shamed the North American Indian of 
the eighteenth century. There was a contempt for the good opinion of the 
world. No considerations of truth, honor, or humanity were permitted to stand 
in the way of the German program. The horrible crimes perpetrated by the 
German armies were by order of the German leaders, and seemingly with the 
general consent of the German people. 

The colossal vanity of the kaiser made him aspire to be another Alexander 
the Great. Behind him was a feulalistic group of military leaders, land barons, 
and captains of industry. Below him and them were the millions of the German 
people, trained from infancy to obey the nod of the man in authority, and with- 
out any practical voice in their government. The conceit, arrogance, and greed oi 
the war lords was boundless. By means of a domestic propaganda, adroit 
and persistent, the German had for years been indoctrined with the myth of 
his superiority to anyone else whomsoever. The clergyman, the schoolmaster, 
and the journalist were permitted to teach only what would encourage the 
opinion that it was the God-given mission of the German to overcome other 


nations by the sword and rule tlie entire earth. The world was not to be 
conquered for the world's good, but that it might Ijc plundered and domineered 
over. That nation the German saw t'lt to deem degenerate was to be blotted 
out. This propaganda <ieveloped tiie "bighead" in a mobt acute form. It led to 
an insufferable contempt for the rest of the world. Consequently, the German 
has utterly failed as a colonizer, or in gaining the good will of the Europeans 
who are not German, yet hitherto under German rule. 

Germany has posed as a highly civilized nation. Her industrial organiza- 
tion was very efficient. She already had an enviable "place in the sun," but 
wanted a monojxjly of this privilege. The Germans have .some commendable 
traits and have great possibilities for good in the upbuilding of the world. But 
they are as yet a young people, only superficially weaned from barbarism and 
|)aganism, and without the acquirement of the habit of good manners. Napoleon 
said that if one scratched a Russian he found a Tartar. Were he alive now 
he would say that if one scratches a Prussian he finds a savage. Under auto- 
cracy, the civilization of Gerniany was an effort to accommodate the twentieth 
century to the spirit of the Middle Ages. It was worn as a garment and not 
as a part of her being. It was materialistic and without a soul. It scoffed 
at the reality of any power except brute force. The war which the criminal 
leaders of Germany set in motion in 1914 has been a conclusive demonstration 
of the unfitness of present-day Germany to lead the world in the path of real 

That war was not a war in the ordinary ^ense of the lirin. It was the 
overpowering of an outlaw who was running amuck. .A more righteous conflict 
was never waged. Germany was fought that the world might be made a decent 
place to live in. There is no place for that country in the household of civilized 
nations until her people cease to bow down to the false gods they have so assidu- 
ously worshipped the last half century. It is entirely against a growing spirit of 
the age for one nation to throttle another by a resort to arms, particularly when 
this recourse involves the plunder or destruction of mines and f.nclories, the en- 
slavement or massacre of the operative population, and indiscriminate piracy and 
murder on the high seas. It is not for any nation to assiune that it is a law to 
itself and that whatever it does is justifiable. 

The United .States wxs forced into this war to a.ssist in the rescue of civiliza- 
tion. The people of Rtxkbridge have the consciousness that they loyally upheld 
their country. nn<l that their sons were numerously represented on the b.-itllc-front 
that cndrd ihr war. 



Slavery in Virginia — Growth of Slavery in Rockbridge — Maintaining Order Awong 

THE Negroes — Crime — Emancipation Efforts — The Negro in the War 

OF 1861 — The Rockbridge Negro of Today 

African slavery was almost as unfamiliar to the British people in their own 
land as it was in the whitest county of the Old Dominion. It was not legalized 
in Virginia until more than fifty years after the founding of Jamestown. White 
servants were preferred to colored ones until after 1700. Negroes of American 
birth were more satisfactory laborers than those coming direct from Africa. 
Slavery grew in favor, and when American independence was declared, the 
negro population of Virginia was already so large that it seemed likely to exceed 
the white at an early day. 

The more far-seeing of the ruling class in Virginia perceived the unde- 
sirability of this inundation. The House of Burgesses repeatedly asked the 
British government to cease bringing negroes to the colony. All these efforts 
were set at naught by the greed of the mercantile classes of England. On the 
eve of the Revolution. Lord Dartmouth said England "cannot allow the colonies 
to check or discourage in any degree a traffic so beneficial to the nation." This 
forcing of slaves upon Virginia was one of the grievances named by Jefferson in 
his original draft of the Declaration of Independence. It must be conceded, how- 
ever, that slaves would not have been brought to Virginia unless there was a 
willingness to buy them. A stern boycott would have ended the traffic. No 
British ministry would have dared to break down such a weapon by sheer force. 

The fact that the summer climate of Virginia is considerably warmer than 
that of Britain had very little to do with the importation of slaves. Black slaves 
as well as white servants were purchased because the society of Tidewater was 
essentially aristocratic. Where there is an aristocracy, there is inevitably a 
menial class. The Tidewater was a land of tobacco plantations, and these could 
not be carried on without a large class of laborers. It is interesting to note 
that above the Tidewater and below the Blue Ridge, slaves were fewer than in the 
former section. In the Valley they were still fewer, and in many of the counties 
beyond the Alleghany Divide they were almost non-existent. Slaves and large 
farms grew fewer and yet fewer as one journeyed toward the Ohio. 

There never was a time when the opponents of slavery in America were not 
numerous. The institution was vehemently denounced by the delegates from 
\'irginia to the Federal Convention of 1787. A X'irginia law of 1784 encouraged 


the freeing of the slaves. In the same year llie Mctliodists of America became an 
indcjKrndcnt church, and one of their first official acts was to petition against 
slavery, although most of their nicnilK-rshij) was then in \'irpnia and Maryland. 
Slavery tended to make manual labor discreditable unless it was performed by 
slaves. It thereby degr.ided the lower classes of society and contributed to idle- 
ness in the higher. It was a Southern man who tersely <lcscril)ed slavery as "a 
curse to the master and a wrung to the slave." It was another who defined it as 
"a mildew which has blighted every region it has touched from the creation of 
the world." 

Colonial Augusta was almost a white man's country. In 1756 it had only 
about eighty slaves ; perhaps not more than one per cent, of the population. But 
thence forward they became increasingly numerous in the better agricultural dis- 
tricts of the \'alley. In KtKkbridgc they were few prior to the Revolution, and 
they were confined to a small number of the wealthier families. When the iron 
industry arose and made a demand for lal)or. negroes were hired from masters 
east of the Blue Ridge. "By 1861," remarked Colonel Preston, "we were quite 
a slaveholding people ; a few more years, and we would have had to undergo 
much that Tuckahoc did on that score. It was well the unpleasantness came as 
soon as it did." 

So completely have the outward vestiges of the reign of slavery passed away 
from Rockbridge, that only a few of the original negro quarters remain. .\ 
notable exception in the Weaver estate at BufTalo I'Drgc. where the houses for 
the slaves were of an uncununonly substantial and comfortable kind. The insti- 
tution was milder in Virginia than in the cotton belt, and the relations between 
master and slave were as a rule kindly. The main highw.iy to "the darky's heart 
was down his throat." The slave was given a holiday week at Christmas time 
and he enjoyed it as much as his master did. lie was in his element when playing 
banjo and Iwncs and patting his knee. 

But since the .African came to X'irginia as a child-race, and was noi used 
to any softer arginnent than brute force, it was felt slavery could not Ik 
maintained by treating the negro in the same manner as the white man. The 
slave was suppose<l not to carry a gun or to go outsitle his master's premises 
without a pass. I'oisons might not be put into his hands, and this restriction 
was necessary. In 1839 a RfKkbridgc slave attempted to poison several persons, 
lie nnght not l)C taught to read or write. But between himself and his own 
slaves the master did not think the law had any claim to inii rfi re- Nrinnlingly. 
if he saw fit, he taught a favorite slave to read and write 

The patrol systein was one means of keeping the slaves in order, and it 
occasioned a good deal of expense. Captains were appointed by the county 
court, each having a force of some six or eight men. A captain and his squad 


were to patrol a specified area at specified times. For this service the patrol- 
man was paid thirty-three cents a night in 1782. In 1822, he was paid six cents 
an hour. The penal code was not the same to the slave that it was to the 
Caucsaian. His ears could be cropped. He could be hanged for burning a barn, 
or for stealing, and the county court was empowered to decree the death penalty. 
But before the negro was hanged, his valuation as a slave was determined, and 
this sum was paid by the county to the master. 

A considerable share of the crime in Rockbridge has been committed by the 
negro. The first civil execution of a white man in this county took place 
August 3, 1905. It was preceded by the legal hanging of five negroes at five 
diflferent times. York, a slave of Andrew Reid, was adjudged guilty December 
1, 1786, of killing Tom, another of Reid's slaves. It was odrered that he be 
hanged one week later, that his head be severed from the body, and that it be 
set on a pole at the forks of the road between Lexington and John Paxton's. 
Rape was not at all unknown before emancipation. An execution for this crime 
took place in Rockbridge in 1850. For assaulting and beating Arthur McCorkle, 
Alexander Scott was ordered to be hanged April 5, 1844. The master was to be 
paid $450.00. Cyrus, a slave of Robert Piper, was ordered to hang in 1798 for 
burning his master's house. In 1840, Nelson, a slave, was ordered to be hanged 
for burglary. Outlaw slaves might be put to death with impunity. But the 
penalty for burglary was sometimes changed to transportation to Liberia. Whip- 
ping was administered in less serious matters, as when thirty-nine lashes were 
ordered for Peter, a slave of John Hays, in 1800. He had stolen leather worth 
$3.25. In 1804, Jinny, a slave of John Uunlap, threatened his wife, Dorcas. The 
woman was ordered to be kept in jail until her child was born, and thirty lashes, 
well laid on, were to be given. A negress was occasionally guilty of infanticide. 

Before 1861, and particularly before 1830, there were somewhat frequent 
instances of manumission. But restrictions were imposed on the freedman. He 
was registered as to height, color, markings, etc., and a duplicate of the paper 
given him. Registration had to be repeated every five years. To live in the 
county he had to have the consent of the county court. But he had a surname 
as well as a given name, and his marriages were recorded among those of the 
white people. It was the policy of Virginia to discourage the free negro from 
remaining in the state. He was too frequently idle and worthless, and his pres- 
ence tended to make the slaves restless and demoralized. Yet a request to remain, 
if by a freedman who stood well with the whites, was not likely to be turned 

In 1830 the desire to get rid of the institution of slavery had become very 
strong in Virginia. The state was declining in wealth, and emigration to the West 
and South was very heavy. About this time, 343 women of Augusta county 


signed a petition for immediate emancipation. A petition to the Assembly, dated 
1827 an<l sent from Rockbridge, asks tlic removal of free negroes from the 
state, and favors manumission and colonization. It goes on to say tbat "tlie 
evils, both political and moral, which spring from the diflercncc of color and 
condition in our population, are great and obvious. The blacks, in proportion 
to their number, are a |)ositive deduction from our military strength, an impedi- 
ment to the wealth and improvement of the country, and to the general diffusion 
of knowledge by schools; a source of domestic uneasiness and an occasion of 
moral degeneracy of character. Separated by an impassable barrier from politi- 
cal privileges and social respectability, and untouched by the usual incentives to 
improvement, they must be our natural enemies, degraded in sentiment and base 
in morals." Another Rtjckbridge petition exhibits the contrast between 1790 
and 1830, with respect to the section of the state east of the Blue Ridge. The 
whites had increased from 314,523 to 375,935, but the blacks had increased from 
288,425 to 457,013. being now in a large niajority. The tendency toward an 
Africanization of the lia^tern District was causing much emigration of the 
whites. It was prophesied that a race war would result and cause a blotting 
out of the negroes. The petition asked for a special tax to create a fund to re- 
move such blacks as were willing to go. and to purchase some others to send 
with them. It asked that private emancipation be followed by removal. 

In 1832 a bill for a general emancipation passed the lower house of the 
legislature, and lacked only one vote of going through the senate. The Western 
District of \irginia was almost unanimous for the measure. The v.alue of 
the slave property was about $100,000,000. Shortly after the defeat of this bill 
came the tragic insurrection in Soutliani|)ton. whereby sixty white people lost 
their lives. An anti-slavery feeling spread in the North, and the many anti- 
slavery societies in the South were disbanded. The institution was given a new 
lease of life, and yet there was still a strong economic op])osition to slavery in the 
Western District, this name iK'ing given, until 1H^>1 to ilw portion I'f \'irginia 
west of the lilue Ridge. 

A petition from this county in 1847 says it is l>elievcd there are 60,000 of 
the free colored in the state, and it asserts the opinion that there will Ik 250,000 
of them in the year 1900. It recommends deportation to Lil»eria, and says 
that with few exceptions the freedmcn arc idle, worthless, and increasingly 
injurious to the slaveholders and the slaves. Henry RufTner. himself a slave- 
holder, put forward a plan the same year. He found that slavery was driving 
away immigration, driving ont white laliorcrs, crippling agriculture, commerce, 
an<l industry, inlpo^ing hurtful social ifleals u])on the j)eo|)le, and it was 
detrimental to the common schools and to |>o|)ular eiliicition. His plan was to 
divide the stale along the line of the Blue Ridge, eliminate slavery on the west 


side, and on the east side to introduce a policy of gradual emancipation, deporta- 
tion, and colonization. John Letcher was also in favor of eventually keeping 
slavery out of the Western District. In the course of an interview at Washington 
College, General Lee said he had always favored gradual emancipation. He had 
considered the presence of the negro an absolute injury to the state and a peril 
to its future. He thought it would have been better had Virginia sent her negroes 
into the cotton country. 

In 1860, the imminence of civil war depreciated slave values and gave a 
stimulus to a more active selling of them in the cotton states. In the Gazette for 
January 24, 1860, William Taylor advertises for 1,000 negroes for the Southern 
market. Another advertisement, dated May 10, 1860, reads thus: "I wish to pur- 
chase 500 likely young negroes of both sexes for the Southern market, for which I 
will pay the highest market prices in cash. My address is Staunton or Middle- 
brook, Augusta County, Va. J. E. Carson." About this time advertisements 
of runaway slaves were somewhat a regular feature of the newspapers. 

During the war of 1861 the conduct of the negroes was highly creditable to 
the race, and there were few misdemeanors among them. Many of the slaves 
showed great fidelity in staying with the families of their masters and working 
the farms. In one instance a master was about to join the Confederate army and 
had to leave five children behind him. His man-slave told him to go on and he 
would himself see that things at home were attended to. The master was killed 
in battle, but the negro was faithful to his trust, and the children were enabled 
to go to school. A monument marks the grave of the old servant in the Timber 
Ridge burial ground. 

American slavery was doomed by the war of 1861, no matter which side 
might triumph. The Federal government resorted to emancipation as a war 
measure, and it was made permanent by a constitutional amendment. Yet it is 
not generally known that an emancipation act was passed by the Confederate 
Congress in the closing days of the war. 

The slave was commoni)' known by a single name, instances of which are 
Mingo, Will, Jerry, Jude, Pompey, Dinah, Daphne, Rose, Jin, Nell, Let, Phoebe, 
Phillis, and Moll. One effect of emancipation was to ensure him a surname, 
which was often that of the family in whicii he had worked. 

An interesting exception to a general rule was that of the Reverend John 
Chavis. In 1802 it was certified that he was free, decent, orderly, and respect- 
able, and had taken academic studies at Washington College. Another was 
Patrick Henry, for whom Thomas Jefferson built a cabin on iiis land at Natural 
Bridge and left him in charge of the property, so that it might be adequately 
shown to visitors. Jefferson conveyed some land to him in fee simple and lie 
lived on it till his death in 1829. Henry's will is on record at Lexington. He iiad 


tlie unique distinction of being a colored slaveholder, as the following document 
will show: 

He it kiiuwn III all whom thc»c prc>ciil> may come, that I, Patrick Henry, of the County 
of Rockbridge and Slate of Virginia having in the year of our Lord one Thousand eight 
hundred and fifteen purchased from Benjanin Darst of the town of Lexington a female 
tlave named Louisa, and since known by the name of Louisa Henry; now, for and in con- 
sideration of her extraordinary meritorious zeal in the prosecution of my interest, her 
constant probity and exemplary dc|>ortment subsequent to her being recognized as my wife, 
together with divers other good and substantial reasons, I have this day in open court in 
the county aforesaid, by this my public deed of manumission determined to enfr.-inchise, set 
free, and admit her to a partici|>ation in all and every privilege, advantage, and immunity 
that free persons of color are capacitated, enabled, or permitted to enjoy in conformity 
with the Laws and Provisions of this Commonwealth, in such case made and provided. .And 
by these presents I do hereby emancipate, set free, manumit, and disenthrall, the said I^uisa 
alias Louisa Henry from the shackles of slavery and bondage forever, for myself and all per- 
sons whomsoever, I do renounce, resign, and henceforth disclaim all right and authority over 
her as, or in the capacity of a slave. And for the true and earnest performance of each and 
every stipulation hereinbefore mentioned to the said Louisa, alias Ix)uisa Henry, I bind my- 
self, my heirs, executors, and administrators forever. In testimony whereof I have here- 
unto set my hand and aflixed my seal this second day of December in the year of our Lord 
one thousand eight hundred and sixteen. 

Patrick Henrv. 

In 1910 tlie negroes of this county were sixteen per cent, of the population, 
and paid taxes on land and personalty assessed at $237,505. The grepariousness 
of the race is indicated in the fact that of the aforesaid amount, $155,653 Ik-- 
longed in Lexington town and district. 

It is worthy of mention .\iny Timl)erlake, daughter of a negrcss brought 
from Africa, lived to a greater age than any other resident of Rockbridge, so far 
as our infnrnintion goes. She died in 1897 at the age of 107. 

In the middle course of Irish Creek is a considerable community sometimes 
known as the "brown people." They live the simple life in their little log cabins 
which dot the valley and the bordering hillsides. In the veins of many of them 
is the blood of the Indian as well as that of the .\frican, but the Caucasian type 
is dominant. 



Founding of the County Seat — The Town Site — County Buildings — The Fire of 1796 — 

Lexington in 1816 and 1835 — Lexington in Recent Times — 

A Letter of 1781 

When the county of Rockbridge was authorized in 1778, the population 
was probably not less than 4,000. It must have been well distributed, except tliat 
it had not penetrated so deeply into the mountain coves as was the case a century 
later. The Rockbridge people of that day were altogether rural. The nearest 
approach to a village was the school-hamlet at Timber Ridge. One cannot find in 
the United States nowadays an area so large as Rockbridge with its then popula- 
tion and without a full-fledged town. 

But for the creation of the new county, ten and perhaps twenty years 
would have elapsed without placing a village in the center of the Rockbridge 
area. The county had to have a center of local government, and west of the 
Blue Ridge a county seat has always meant a town. The selection of the 
plateau at the mouth of Woods Creek was governed partly by the general 
attractiveness of the spot, but still more because of its central position and its 
being on the main line of travel between Staunton and the settlements on and 
beyond the Roanoke. It was also on a direct line of travel to the Kanawha and 
the West. 

Thus we find that the same Act of Assembly which created Rockbridge also 
provided for laying of! into streets and lots a tract of about twenty-seven acres. 
The net return from the sale of lots was to be applied to lessening the county 
levy. In the Act the statute-made town is called Lexington. We do not know 
who was particularly responsible for the choice of name, but the Lexington 
of Virginia, like the Lexington of Kentucky, appears to be a namesake of the 
village in Massachusetts, where the first battle of the Revolution was begim. 

The first private owner of the tract was Gilbert Campbell, who left a new 
"hoose" and personalty of $179.41 on his decease in 1750. The property then 
passed to his son, Isaac, the possessor at the time of the War for Independence. 
The rectangle of 900 feet by 1,300 feet, provided by the statute, was divided 
into thirty-six lots, two of these being reserved for the county buildings. The 
original lots are 128>^ feet broad and 195 feet deep. The three streets running 
in the longer direction were named Randolpii, Main, and Jefferson. The cross 
streets were called Henrj', Washington, and Nelson, ^\'ith one exception these 
streets bear the names of Virginia statesmen of tiie Revolutionary period. An 


alley all around the circumference of five-sixths of a mile is indicated in the 
original plat. The courthouse reser^-ation was defined as fronting Main and 
extending from Henry to Washington. 

The boundaries of Lexington were extended in 1847, 1850, 1874, and 1916. 
It is a curious fact that the title of the Act of 1850 conveys no hint that 
the statute concerns any other town than Clarksburg, the birtliplace of Stonewall 

The first care of the county court was to provide for the public buildings. 
The specifications for the first courthouse arc given in Chapter IX. The build- 
ing was to have been completed by November 1, 1778. Nothing appears to have 
been done, for next year wc find the court ordering a courthouse twenty-five by 
thirty feet, flanked by two jury rooms, each twelve feet scjuare. A stone founda- 
tion was to support a brick wall nine feet high. The too{ was to be in the 
form of a T and covered with joint shingk-s. The courthouse now ordered 
appears to have been burned in 1787. In that year we find the justices con- 
tracting with William Rricc to build a courthouse twenty-four by thirty feet 
on the ground, and with a wall eigiitcen feet high. Again the foundation 
was to be of stone and the wall of brick. Again the courtroom was to be 
flanked by a jury-room twelve feet .square and provided with a cliinmey. In front 
there was to be a lobby twelve feet by twenty-four. The courtroom was to con- 
tain a gallery, and was to be lighted by two windows taking glass eight inches 
by ten, but with twenty- four panes instead of eighteen. Pine flooring and 
chestnut shingles were to be used. This second courthouse perished in the 
great fire of 1796. The justices to draw the plans for still another courthouse 
and jail were John Bowycr and John and James Caruthcrs. In 1798 a pillory and 
stocks were ordered. Wc arc not informed as to the size of the original county 
"Iwarding," but in Rockbridge, as elsewhere, an "insufficiency of the 
jail" was for years a complaint entered by every incoming sherifT. In 1815 a 
stove was ordered for the "dungeon of ]a\\" A new ofTice for the clerk of the 
court was ordered in 1845. Tin- present commodious and quite modem court- 
house was opened in 1897. 

April 11. 1796, the young vill.ige was scourged by the fire-fiend. Accord- 
ing to <me version of the occurrence, some resident had burned the trash 
in his garden, and the coals were given new life by a rising wind. By another 
statement the fire began on the lot above the one occupied by the Methodist 
Cliurch in 1889. The hay in a stable took fire, either from the pipe of a negro 
hatter or from the cnibcrs under a wash-keltle. Both .iccounts agree that there 
was a westerly wind. Little could l)c done to check the conflagration, and it 
extcmled ,ns far eastward as the intersection of M,iin and Henry streets. The 
courthouse burned down, and for a while the residence of Andrew Reid was 
used as a substitute. 


The disaster of 1796 stinuilated tlie people to devise a means for being 
less helpless in the event of another fire. So we find fifty citizens signing in 
the same year the following petition : 

We, the inhabitants of the town of Lexington and its vicinity, nnder the impression of 
our late misfortune by fire, and sensible of the great danger to which we are dailey ex- 
posed from many unavoidable circumstances ; do hereby mutually associate ourselves for the 
purpose of forming a fire company, to be known by the name of the Lexington Fire 

About thirty years later, another petition says there is an engine and hose, 
btit no fire company. It remarks that the town levy on all real property is three 
per cent. 

A petition of 1801 mentions an Act of Assembly whereby certain persons 
named therein were authorized to raise by a lottery $25,000 for the relief of the 
sufferers by the fire. It goes on to suggest, that as the Act was not carried into 
effect and the townsmen had in some measure recovered from their loss, the 
sum named be reduced to $5,000, and be used in building a schoolhouse in the 
town and in opening roads over South and North mountains. 

A much better class of houses appears to have succeeded those destroyed 
in the great fire. One Isaac Burr, of New York, who kept a diary on his trip 
up the Valley of Virginia in September, 1804, says that "Lexington is a hand- 
some little village with good buildings." Burr must have been very fond of pie. 
He complains that he could get none except those made of apple or peach, and 
even these were exceedingly scarce. 

A petition of 1805 finds a grievance in the phiying of "long bullet," the 
nature of which seems now forgotten. It was played so much on the high- 
ways and near the town as to endanger the safety of people traveling about. 
GambHng was a feature of the game. Convictions were hard to secure, and that 
the practice might be stamped out, the aid of the Assembly was invoked. 

For a quarter of a century there was no church building in the town, and 
religious ser^'ices, as well as literary societies and singing schools, were held in 
the courtliouse. On Washington's birthday, 1796. the sum of $2,500 was sub- 
scribed by forty-five men to erect a Presbyterian Church. The fire which quickly 
followed was probably responsible for some delay. At all events the church was 
not completed until the fall of 1802. It had an outside gallery and could scat 
800 people. It .stood near the main entrance to the present cemetery, and in 1844 
was succeeded by the one now in existence. This, however, has been remodeled 
since the war of 1861. The Presbyterian house of worship has been followed, 
in the order of their mention, by the Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, and Roman 
Catholic churches. 

Unless the "Campbell schoolhouse" of 1753 stood near or on the site of 


Lexington, the one built by William Alexander near where the union station now 
is would appear to have served the needs of the village in its earlier years. 
Apart from the Ann Smith Academy, the first pretentious efTort in the educa- 
tional line seems to have been in 1819, when the "Central School of Ixxington" 
was built by an association at a cost of $1,100. In 1834 it was still in use and 
incorporation was asked. 

In 1811 tiuTc were eleven mechanics asking leave to incorporate as an asso- 

In his semi-centeiuiial address before the Franklin Society in 1873. Colonel 
J. r. I.. Preston gives an interesting picture of Lexington in 1816. The town 
was still nearly or quite within the limits decreed in 1777. Main Street was 
not compactly built up, and there was but one brick building on its southward 
side. The finest structure was the Ann Smith Academy. Beyond it was a 
cornfield. At opposite sides of the college campus were two brick halls two 
stories high. The water supply was from a pump and from Back Spring. 
Hauling water by sled was "quite an institution." Ice-houses were unknown. 
The Presbyterian the only church. There were two services .separated 
by an "intervale" of one-half hour, and nearly as many people were present in 
the afternoon as in the morning. The large oak grove then reaching from 
the church gate to \Voo<ls Creek was a rambling ground during the noon inter- 
mission. There were many merchants for a town of not over 600 people, but 
the trading was on a small scale. The store of William Caruthcrs was the largest. 
Goods were purchased in Philadelphia. Prices were higher than in 1873, and 
money was scarcer. The town physician was Samuel L. Campbell, an eccentric 
gentleman of fine sense, kind heart, good culture, and liberal views. Mis field 
was a large one. yet there was less sickness than in later years. The able and 
very genial iKir. of which riotous stories were told, consisted of Chapman John- 
son, Daniel Sbeffcy, Briscoe Baldwin, and Howe Peyton. 

In 1832 the lottery was still hardly thought of as a form of gambling. In 
that year Ixxington was authorized to raise $12,000 by such means and use 
it in paving the streets and bringing water into the town. 

Martin's I'irgitiia Gaccltccr of 1835 tells us that Lexington bad Presbyterian 
and Methodist churches, a printing ofiice, five shoemakers, five saddlers, four tav- 
erns, four carpenters, three hatters, two tanneries, two tinplate works, two cabi- 
net-makers, two wheelwrights, two jewelers, two blacksmiths, and one brick- 
layer. Three libraries were o})en to the publi'- Tlwn- «ir.- riluini 1 ^^n ilwellings 
and nearly 900 inhabitants. 

Howe, in bis Sketches of I'injinia, dated 1845. rcjmrts that the town had 
four churches, two printing offices, ancl 1,200 people. He quotes an Kngtish 
traveler as saying that "the town has many attractions. It is surrounded by 


beauty, and stands at the head of a valley flowing with milk and honey. House 
rent is low and provisions are cheap, abundant, and of the best quality. Flowers 
and gardens are more highly prized than in most places." 

American opinion in the 50's sounds less appreciative. An observer of 1855 
calls Lexington "an indifferent town and rather small, with muddy streets." 
Speaking of the town in 1859, Florence McCarthy, the Baptist minister, says it 
then looked as though it had been finished twenty years earlier, a new house 
being a very rare event. Yet in 1855, J. W. Paine was keeping a bookstore, and 
two years later Samuel Pettigrew had a daguerreotype studio. In this period the 
drinking habit was unpleasantly conspicuous. A petition of 1852, signed by 
182 persons, says there are six unlicensed drinking places, and it asks for a search- 
warrant law. Just before the war of 1861 there were eight groggeries, and court 
day was no time for a self-respecting woman to appear on the street. 

After the return of peace Lexington roused itself to a considerable degree 
of business activity, yet in 1873 a local newspaper said the streets were uncleanly 
and the sidewalks unworthy of the name. Eight years later there were paved 
streets, brick sidewalks, waterworks, and sanitary arrangements, but no rail- 
road. It took eighteen hours to come from Lynchburg, a distance of fifty miles. 

Before there were banks in the Valley of Virginia it was a custom to con- 
ceal money. It is said that when Major William Dunlap died in 1834, there was 
the sum of $12,000 in specie lying buried on his farm near Goshen. In later 
years much time was spent by residents of the neighborhood in searching for 
it. The first bank in Rockbridge was the Lexington Savings Institution, in- 
corporated in 1843, but chartered under a longer name in 1834. It was still in 
operation in 1860, and gave five per cent, interest on time deposits. The Lexing- 
ton Building Fund Association was organized in 1854. In 1860 its assets were 
$51,611.75, and its expense account for the year was $1,114.94. 

The coming of peace in 1865 found the town cemetery in a very much 
neglected condition. Few stones had been set up during the war, and much of the 
inclosure was a jungle of grass, weeds, and tree-sprouts. During the war there 
were 108 interments of Confederate soldiers from other states than Virginia. 
More than one-half were North Carolinians. But the cemetery is now well cared 
for. It lies high and level, commands a fine outlook, and is much beautified with 
flowers and shrubbery. It is the resting place of many of the eminent dead of 
Rockbridge. The most conspicuous feature is the pillar surmounted by a statun 
in heroic size of the great Confederate leader, Stonewall Jackson. 

Lexington was incorporated December 18, 1841. On the first Saturday in 
January, 1842, and every second year thereafter, the free white male house- 
keepers and freeholders, twenty-one years of age or upward, were to elect seven 
trustees, these serving two years and four constituting a iiuorum. They were en- 


powered to ap|>oint a board of three assessors. They could also adopt rules and 
regulations for the maintenance of order, grade and pave streets, put in water- 
works, and proceed against delinquents. Their jurisdiction extended one mile 
beyond the town limits. Tliey ap]>ointe(l a town scr^ieant, who acted as constable 
within the corporate limits. 

During the last fifty years Lexington has been a place of about 3.000 in- 
habitants. The business quarter is chiefly on Main street, and is quite compact. 
The business and professional interests arc about such as may be looked for in 
an American town of this size. Yet Lexington lias never been an industrial 
center. It is supported by a considerable country trade and by the two great 
educational institutions within its confines. The streets are generally paved, 
and the residence sections include many modern cottages setting back from the 
sidewalk in very attractive grounds. The improvement since the 50's is due more 
to the changed conditions of the postbellum era tlian to a marked increase in 
population. In 1850 the county scat was credited with 1,105 white and 638 
ccjlcired inhabitants. In 1860 the total jx)])ulation was 2.135. In 1870 it had risen 
t(j 2.873. which is well-nigh as large as the figures for 1010. In 1874 the assessor 
found 1,451 white and 1.251 colored citizens and 501 students. 

We close this chapter with a letter written from I-exington while it was yet 
ail infant village. 

Lexington Isi Feb. 1781 
May it please your Excellency: 

Accounts from all quarters lead us to expect viKorous Measures from our Enemies the 
next Campain. I have just received Duplicates of Letters sent from our OflSccrs of Ilinois 
to others at Louisville which infurm that the & .\meric.iii Ilinois Settlements are 
preparing defensively for heavy attacks. The oriKin;il Letters I hear are sent forward to 
your F-!xcellency. On confcrriiiK with Cols Downians & Trigg we concluded it cx|>cdient to 
send 150 Men to Garrison the Mnulh of Licking until Crockett sh.nll arrive which we shall 
expect weekly. We apprehended the Expenxe wd be less to Government than to wait 
until the Enemy arrived at our Settlements and better conduce to the Security of the 

Inclosed arc Recommendations for certain oflficers in this County. Would there he any 
Impropriety in sending out some Blank Commissions as formerly? I wd engage that no 
ahii^t l>e rnmmiiled. There are many vacancies for other Officers than those recommended 
wh<i»e Rank« arc as yet unfilled. 

I have the Uniior to be with the greatest Respect. 

Your Excellency's 

Most obedient and 
humble Servant 
Tc. Gov Jefferson John Todovs 



At a point where North River exchanges an easterly for a southerly course, 
is a long and tolerably broad expanse of river-bottom. Immediately eastward are 
the high and broken foothills of tlie Blue Ridge. Westward is the rapid flowing 
river, and beyond is the rolling upland that extends to the North Mountain. The 
locality was long known as Hart's Bottom, because a portion was patented by 
Silas Hart, a pioneer magistrate whose home was near Staunton. John Robin- 
son came here shortly after the close of the Revolution, and by adding to his 
original purchase acejuired a large estate. In 1889 the bottom was owned by 
Samuel F. Jordan, B. C. Moomaw, and one Gurney, of New York. By this time 
it was known as Green \^alley. Near the flag station on what was then the 
newly built Shenandoah Valley Railroad was the Appold Tannery. Near this 
small industry were a half dozen dwellings for the employees. 

About thirty years ago, a "boom fever" was spreading like an epidemic the 
entire length of the Valley of Virginia. "Development companies" sprang up 
like mushrooms, each one announcing that it designed to transform some old 
town or village into a hive of industry, or to create a brand-new town on a 
tract of farming land. Finely printed prospectuses were scattered broadcast, 
lot sales were held, bonuses were given to industrial "plants," and speculation 
ran ritjt until the inevitable reaction came. The result ranged all the way from 
moderate success to utter failure. 

The efTort launched at Green Valley was the earliest in the Valley of Virginia 
rt-ith the exception of Roanoke, and to this priority is largely due the fact that 
Buena Vista is an actual town and not a memory. A development company 
was organized with J. T. Barclay as its president. The issue of capital stock 
was fixed at $600,000. Within nine days this was oversubscribed by nearly 
twenty-five per cent. The land purchased and laid off into lots amounted to 
900 acres. The streets, which are seventy-five feet wide, generally conform to 
the cardinal points of the compass. Those known as avenues bear the names 
of trees. The cross-streets are known by number. The blocks are of uniform 
size. Lots are 125 feet deep. Business lots are twenty-five feet wide and resi- 
dence lots are fifty feet wide. The business quarter is next the river and along tiie 
railroad tracks. The residence section lies toward tiie Blue Ridge and rises into 
some of the lower foothills. 

The stock was sold in shares of $50, two shares entitling the holder to a 
residence lot, and seven giving him a business lot. Some of the industrial enter- 


prises that came brouglit skilled workmen from Pennsylvania, but otherwise the 
people are almost wholly X'irginian. M»ich of the early influx was from Amherst 
on the other side of the Blue Kidge. During the early years in the history of the 
town, a rough, disorderly clement, i)artly white and partly colored, was too con- 

In 1891 liucna \ ista was iiicorpcjratid as a city and thus hccanu- politically 
independent of Rockbridge county. It is alleged, and it would seem with reason, 
that the count of the inhabitants was padded. At all events, the town has never 
yet had the 5,000 people that the statute law asks as a recjuisitc to incorjjoration. 

Buena \'ista has had its ups and downs. Nearly one-half the buildings in 
the place appeared in 1890. Next season a reaction came, and for six years 
the town was at a standstill. Since that ])erio<l of ebb there has been a slow- 
but rather steady progress. The present jxipulation is about 3.500, and only about 
150 persons are colored. 

The leading industries of Buena Vista employ about 550 workmen. They 
comprise the Columbia Paper Company, the Alleghany Iron Com])any, the Buena 
Vista Tannery, and the Buena \'ista Extract Company, all but the last named 
being owned in Pennsylvania. Smaller industries are a firebrick company, a 
stationery comjjany, a silk mill, a saddle factory, a canning company, a building 
supply company, planing and luml>er mills, and a brick plant that uses slag. The 
silk mill is ownicd in the North. Several of the early industries succumbed. One 
of these was a glass company, which sold out to the .\rmnur Fertilizer Company. 
Another was a concern for the manufacture of wire fencing. 

As in other boom towns of the period in question, one of the very first things 
set on foot by the promoters was a hotel on a scale entirely unwarranted by 
the probable supjwrt it would have. The Buena \'ista Hotel was built at a cost 
of $85,000, yet was placed on an elevation at the very edge of the town, and 
thus could not attract conunercial travelers. It did not burn down under the 
suspicious circimistances that were true of several other lioom hotels of the Valley. 
It was at length sold for $10,000, and was converted into a very prosperous 
seminary. The churches of the little city arc Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, 
Lutheran, and Episcopal, and two of difTering br.inches of the Cliurch of the 
Brethren. There are three hotels, a bank, about fifteen mercantile houses, and 
a local newspaper, the Buena Vista Weekly Times. The public schools are 
in<lependcnt of those of the covmty. The chief commercial outlet is the Norfolk 
and Western Railroad, but the town is also servxl li\ ilie l.txiiuMmi Branch of 
the Chesapeake and Ohio. 

The town derives its name from the I'luena \'isla furnace whicli was operated 
by the Jordans in the near vicinity, and which, as its name suggests, anted.ited 
the town some forty years. Buena Vista is the industrial metropolis of Rock- 


bridge, and is sustained by the metallic ores and the timber resources of the 
vicinity. Additional forest products are drawn from as far as North Carolina. 
The town has a pleasant situation, and makes a much better appearance than 
many of the new towns of its class. 

Glasgow has naturally a more favorable situation than Buena Vista. It lies 
on a still more magnificent bottom girt with beautiful mountain scenery, and the 
James was formerly navigated to Richmond below and Buchanan above. It has 
the further advantage of being not only on the same branch of the Norfolk and 
Western, but also on the freight-carrying line of the Chesapeake and Ohio 
that extends from Clifton Forge to Richmond. But its attempt to become an in- 
dustrial town has beeen less fortunate. Its own boom was not launched early 
and had to contend with the many other booms of 1890. In that year a develop- 
ment company was organized with General Fitzhugh Lee as president, Major M. 
M. Martin as vice-president, and R. H. Catlett as secretary-treasurer. These 
gentlemen, with William A. Anderson, of Lexington, and Joseph Davis, of Lynn, 
Massachusetts, constituted the board of directors. The purchases of land aggre- 
gated several thousand acres, and included the Sailing and Glasgow homesteads. 
The large area was laid off into villa sites and town lots, and several enterprises 
were induced to come. A power and light plant was built, but was never 
operated, and was at length dismantled. A costly hotel was built, but never 
opened, and has lately been torn down. Much money was lost and much of the 
town survey has returned to agricultural use. Aside from a corn mill at the 
Locher flag station, the only present industrial concerns in the vicinity are two. 
One is the Glasgow Clay Products Company at Locher, one mile west of the 
town. This new corporation is the successor of the James River Cement Works, 
operated by the Lochers for sixty years. The new concern manufactures brick, 
tiling, and other clay and shale products, and they are of superior quality. The 
raw material for the new plant comes from the same deposits used by the cement 
works. The plant of the Virginia Western Power Company is just below the 
confluence of the two rivers at Balcony Falls. It is new and up-to-date, and 
its 150 miles of transmission wire reaches as far as Hinton, \\'cst Virginia. As in 
the case of boom towns started on a very ambitious scale, the buildings at Glas- 
gow are considerably scattered. The population is probably under 500. The 
churches are Presbyterian and Episcopal, in addition to two Baptist churches of 
the colored people. 

Willow Grove was the name of the first postoffice at Balcony Falls. It was 
kept in the fine brick mansion built by Peter A. Sailing and used as a hotel as well 
as a private residence. It is now the property of George P. Locher. 



Bkownsbvic axd Faimielb— CofNT«v Hamlets — RAiLaoAO Villages — Gosuen — Rafhinb — 
Wilson's Spung — Rockwidce Baths — Rockbiiidge Alcm — Natural Bhidgk 

An aggregation of homes can scarcely be termed a village unless it in- 
cludes a schoolhousc, one or more churches, two or more business houses, a resi- 
dent minister or physician, a repair shop, and in this modern age, a garage. 
When it falls much below this standard, it is a hamlet and not a village. 

In speaking of towns and villages, the local history often attempts to make 
itself also a business directory. But any directory almost at once begins to grow- 
out of date, and after a very few years it reads like ancient history. It is for this 
reason that we shall attempt no more than a general description of the small cen- 
ters of population in Rockbridge. 

A petition of 179.? asks tlu- legal establishment of the town laid out on the 
lands of Robert Wardlaw and Sanuiel McQiesncy. Five years later another 
petition mentions the town as Urownsburg. and asks an extension of time for 
the improvement of lots. In 1835. Martin's Gazetteer speaks of the village as 
containing twenty dwellings, three stores, two shoe factories, three wheelwrights, 
two smith shops, two tailors, a tavern, a tanyard. a saddler, a cabinet-maker, 
a caq)enter, a hatter, a gristmill, and a mercantile flour mill. Ten years later 
Howe speaks of it as having about thirty houses. That Brownsburg has scarcely 
increased in size, even in seventy years, is obviously because a village which 
in our present time is not a county scat and is not on a railroad, is very much 
circuinscril)ed as a conimercial and manufacturing center. It does well if it 
can hold its own in jxjpulation. It may \k a very comfortable place to live in 
from the viewpoint of the old resident, yet the dwellings are likely to assume 
a look of age, and the society is probably staid and conservative. In our day, 
however, such a village will probably have a bank and a garage, as well as at 
least one or two quite modern cottages, these contrasting somewhat oddly with 
the plain, old-fashioned dwellings. Brownsburg lies in the well populated valley 
which above is styled MofTatt's Creek and Iwrlow is called Hays' Creek. It is 
consequently the trade center of a considerable district. In a former day it was 
noted for its high-grade private schools. The academy building yet stands on a 
rise of ground ami recalls the fact that the village and neighborhood have figured 
to a regrettable extent in the matter of homicide. It was in ths old schoolhouse 
that Dfictor Z J, Walker killed Henry Miller. N'f.vemlicr 8. I880. .-,t the close 
of the examination of the former before a ju>lice. Walker was speedily killed by 


Miller's sons. During tlic confusion, Mrs. Walker received a fatal bullet said to 
have been meant for the husband, and one of the sons of Miller was severely 
wounded. The most conspicuous of the other occasions was when two young 
men were shot dead by a youth they were teasing. 

Fairfield, like Brownsburg, lies on a well traveled automobile highway. It 
is of similar size, age, and general appearance, yet stands on somewhat higher 
ground. Its one street is the turnpike along which it stretches a considerable 
distance. In 1835 Martin says it had twenty dwellings, one union church, two 
taverns, one store, one tannery, two doctors, and 130 people. Howe mentions 
twenty-five homes in 1845, and it will thus appear that the village has long 
been stationary. Following the National Highway toward Lexington, we soon 
pass Cedar Grove, the mansion-home of the McDowells. A little beyond is their 
brick-walled family burial ground, perhaps the oldest place of interment in 
the county, but now very much neglected. Still farther on is a brick house dating 
from the Revolutionary period, and once the locally famous hostelry known as 
the Red House. It was in this territory that the first homes were reared in 

Six miles north of Fairfield, where the turnpike enters Augusta, is the hamlet 
of Midway, formerly known as Steele's Tavern. David Steele had a disfiguring 
gash on his face, and in his skull was a silver plate, both injuries being due to 
sword-cuts in the Revolution. In the winter season his guests sat around a 
blazing fire in the barroom. In the summer they sat on plain benches on the 
verandah. To the Virginian of his time, the bench in front of a tavern was a 
necessity. At the dinner table there was plenty of hot coffee, biscuit, and fried 
chicken. Near Midway, but on the road to Raphine, is pointed out the birth- 
place of Cyrus H. McCormick, and near by is the stone shop in which his trial 
machine was built. 

West of North River is an absence of true villages. Collierstown is an 
extended section of well-peopled creek valley. Fancy Hill, though much asso- 
ciated with the names of private academies, is but a hamlet. Mechanicsville, two 
miles west of Buena Vista, is even less a hamlet than it used to be, and the same 
is true of Buffalo Forge. Springfield, very near the Botetourt line, was laid out 
into forty lots as far back as 1797. 

Riverside, Midvale, and \'esuvius are small points on South River and the 
Norfolk and Western railroad, and lie five, ten, and seventeen miles, respect- 
ively, north of Bucna Vista. Buffalo Forge Station is another little railroad place 
at the mouth of Buffalo. 

The one town in the northwest of Rockbridge is Goshen, at the confluence 
of Mill Creek with the Great Calf pasture, and within sight of the upper entrance 
to Goshen Pass. As a point on the nuin line of the Chesapeake and Ohio 

158 A HISTORY OF rockbrid<;e county, VIROIN'IA 

railroad, thirty-thri'c miles from Staunton and twenty-four from Clifton Forge, 
Goshen essayed a boom during the epidemic of 1890. The principal reminder 
of the visitation is Alkghany Inn. built in the Queen Anne style and perched 
on a hilltop. The little town lies in the valley below, astride the course of 
Mill Creek. In 1873 there was a proposal, never tried out. to make it the scat 
of government of a new county. Notwithstanding the iron deposits and the 
smelting interest in the vicinity, Goshen lost a third of its jwpulation between 
1900 and 1910, and now has under 200 inhabitants. A mile southward and not 
in view from the station is the X'icturia furnace, and just beyond is a cluster of 
small, red tenement houses. 

The fourth town in Rockbridge is Raphine, which dates from the coming of 
the \'allcy Railroad in 188.V It was named by James E. A. Gibbs and laid out on 
his lands, although he did not expect more than a hamlet to grow up. The first 
passenger car to make a stop was attached to a work train, and left September 
18th of that year to take his daughter on the beginning of her trip ti> .Arkansas. 
The first store came the same year. An elevator was opened in 1886 and a 
bank in 1906. Presbyterian and Methodist chapels were built in 1889 and about 
1890. The boom fever paid a visit to Raphine and held out the prospect of a 
shoe factory, as well as making the place a health resort iKcause of its lithia 
waters. The town now has about 350 people. The high school has six rooms, 
five teachers, and more than 100 pupils. The commercial interests of the include a bank, four stores, a fine garage, and an automobile agency, a 
wagoiimakcr, a blacksmith, and a firm handling grain, hay. and fertilizer. 

A little more than a mile south of the town is a low stone house situated near 
a Ixjld sjjring and built as a fortified house in the Indian times. It is still occupied 
as a dwelling house, but the windows have been widened. Many years ago mys- 
terious occurrences held sway her for three months. It is related that the poker 
and fire shovel waltzed across the room, a tnmk flew out from under a bed. hot 
stones fell upon and smashed dinner plates on the table, and hot pancakes fell in 
the meadow as manna did for the Hebrews in the wilderness of Sinai. A woman 
who was the mother of a child was the reputed witch. The only actual sufferer 
was a colored girl on whose person welts appeared as if from blows, and who 
screamed from what she believed to be pin-lhrusts. The s|)ell was broken when 
the girl was sent South. Such talcs arc seemingly absurd, yet in this instance 
are believed to rest on a Iwsis of fact. The manifestations appear to be due to 
what is called poltergeist by the Germans. 

The summer resorts of Rockbridge have enjoyed much renown. A contri- 
butor to the Gazette in 1874 writes in a very interesting m.nnner of old times 
at Wilson's Spring at the lower entrance to Goshen P.iss. The strong sulplnir 
waters issue from a rocky islet in the midst of North River, and consequently the 


Spring is temporarily overwlielmed in time of flood. By virtue of a land deed 
these waters have been made accessible to the public for all time. The first land 
patent was in the name of William Porter in 1755. The next owners were the 
Stricklers, whose name attached itself for a while to the spring and the pass 
through the mountain. 

The writer we have referred to says that "most of our springs began business 
as deer licks. By accident or otherwise, a curative value was found, and then 
some one built a hut." Other people built huts, and in July and August there was 
a lively concourse of the rural yeomanry. Visitors put up their horses at 
Wilson's stable, fed the animals themselves, washed their hands and laces at 
the spring branch, and perhaps slept in the barn. They ate their lunches while 
sitting on benches on the front porch, and tossed their corncobs into the front 
yard. When harvest was over, visitors would come in a covered wagon drawn 
by four horses, and containing a bed or two, provisions, and sundry parapher- 
nalia. All the family went, except that one or two of its members took turn in 
staying at home to attend to the farm chores and bring supplies to camp. The 
cooking in camp was done under an arbor covered with pine brush. Some slept 
in the wagon, some in the arbors. The visitors did little at dressing up. The old 
ladies assembled in some cabin and talked. The old men met in squads under 
the large oaks. The grown girls made parties, swung, went after huckleberries, 
and cast eyes at the young men. Children played in the sand or waded in the river. 

The picnicking thus described as being true of eighty years ago continues in 
principle, even if not identical in manner. Wilson's Spring is still a popular re- 
sort for the people of the county. Guests from a distance board at the farm- 
house. The much greater number of county people occupy a considerable cluster 
of very unpretentious cottages built by themselves. But on certain days many 
hundreds of people visit the spot, coming in the morning and returning at the 
close of the day. 

Little more than a mile down North River is the hamlet of Rockbridge 
Baths, eleven miles from Lexington. It has grown up around a small hotel on 
a level lawn very near the stream. The magnesia waters are thermal, have a 
temperature of seventy-two degrees, and act favorably on the digestive organs. 
They are also useful in cutaneous affections. In the spring is a growth of algae 
that reproduces itself when cut back. A mass of this applied wet to a sore has a 
tendency to heal it. This resort was opened by the Jordans. The guests are city 
people of a class not much attracted to the sulphur spring above. The vicinage 
is not very broken, and is typically rural in appearance. It is pleasant and at- 

Nine miles above Goshen, well toward the source of Bratton's Run, and in 
the narrow valley between Mill and North mountains, is Rockbridge Alum. Five 
springs, varying somewhat in their mineral strength, issue from the base of a 


slate blulT. The waters contaiti iodine, magnesia, sulphuric acid, and the sul- 
phates of iron and aluinina. The waters are purgative and diuretic, and they 
relieve congestion and inflanuuation. They are also tonic, and they improve the 
appetite. Their action on the skin is secondary, and like the waters at Rock- 
bridge Haths they arc very serviceable in cutaneous affections, including indolent 
sores. Formerly something was done in bottling the waters and in separating 
the mineral ingredients by evaporation. In addition to the five alum springs there 
is one of chalybeate water. 

The realty including these springs was first owned by Joiin Dunlap and a 
Campbell, each nian holding a half-interest. It was opened as a resort about I8.V4. 
The property is said to have been considered at one time as the most valuable 
single piece of real estate in the South, and was sold in 1853 for $150,000. The 
spot used to be frequented by throngs of people from all the former slave states, 
as many as 400 guests being registered in a single day. The various buildings of 
the hotel property form a (juite extensive array, but are of a type that is now 
anti(|uated. The lawn, which lies in the creek valley, is fairly level. For several 
miles around there is almost no settlement. The scene is very nearly as primeval 
today as it was in the time of the pathfinder. A more healthful and restful 
spot can scarcely be found in America. 

A much less important resort is Cold Sulphur Spring, about two miles south- 
west of Goshen. John Dunlap was the owner of this spring, and he permitted 
visitors to camp arountl it without charge. .Ml the buildings were burned 
some years ago. 

The Funstainc was a resort on the old Major William Dunlap farm near 
Goshen. It was afterward owned by the Bells. A part of the old building is yet 
standing in the Bell orchard. 

No later than the summer of 1887 there were 1.700 sunmicr visitors in this 
county. But the present reign of the automobile has robbed the resorts of Rock- 
bridge of much of their oldtime popularity. The mineral springs are compara- 
tively remote from railway, are not reached by macadamized thoroughfares, and 
during the recent years their patronage has very much fallen ofT. 

Natural Bridge is without mineral waters, but maintains itself by reason of 
the great natural curiosity within the bounds of the hotel property. It is also 
on the main automobile route through the Valley of Virginia, and is but two 
miles from Natural Bridge Station on tlie Norfolk and Western and Chesapeake 
and Ohio railroads. A macadamized highway connects the hotel with the station. 
The hotel itself is a quite pretentious structure, and is pleasantly shaded by trees. 
There is a swinuning-pool at the head of the hollow, down which a footpath 
Ic'kIs to the brink of Cedar Creek. At the railroad station the tracks of the 
Norfolk and Western and the Gicsapcakc and Ohio cross, and somewhat of a 
village has been called into existence. 


Aboriginal Paths — Pioneer Roads — Road Improvement — Turnpikes — Canals — Railroads 

The Rockbridge of 1737 was largely open country carpeted with grass. The 
area in prairie was a grazing ground for the herds of buffalo and deer. The for- 
mer animal always went about in herds. When the grass was nibbled too close 
in one spot the herd moved to another place, taking a very straight course, and 
the well-defined path was used season after season. 

At first blush it would look as though the buffalo was the first road-builder 
in Rockbridge. But the Indian was here before the buffalo. That shaggy beast 
was not a denizen of the forest. His original habitat was the vast grassy plain 
that sweeps eastward from the base of the Rocky Mountains. But until he 
possessed the mustang, which came to him by way of the Spaniard, the Indian 
found the Great Plains a very unsuitable land to occupy. The few red men who 
lived here dwelt only along the larger watercourses. To attract the buffalo east- 
ward, and thus have a more abundant supply of food, the forest tribes of the 
Mississippi Basin created artificial prairies. The original small opening grew 
steadily larger in consequence of burning the grass at the end of each hunting 
season. In this way the buffalo was lured farther and farther eastward until he 
reached the \'alley of \'irginia. The moundbuilding tribes of the Ohio vallev 
fell away from their agricultural habits and depended in an increased degree upon 
the bow and arrow. The Indian of the historic period was a wholesale burner 
of the woods, and Hugh Maxwell, a forestry expert, declares that in a few more 
centuries Virginia would have become either a meadow or a desert. 

The Indian often used the buffalo trail, but his network of footpaths in 
tlie wilderness antedated the work of the buffalo. His own trail followed valleys 
and crossed ridges. If at all possible, a creek was crossed where the fording was 
easy. The larger paths were called war trails, and they were like trunk lines 
of railroad. They were worn rather deeply into the earth, and were often wide 
enough to admit a wagon. As a matter of course the path of the aborigine was 
adopted by the white pioneer. The latter saw no reason to cut out a new road 
where there was already a serviceable one. It is therefore easy to understand 
why the "Indian Road" of the early settlers soon became known as the "Pennsyl- 
vania Road," and why with some modification of route it developed into the N'ailcy 
Turnpike and its connecting links to the southward. The section of this thorougii- 
fare passing through Rockbridge was accepted as a public road by the court of 
Orange in the spring of 1745. 


The Indians had other paths in this territory, one of which came from the 
Ohio and crossed North Mountain into the valley of Kerr's Creek. A section of 
still another path may be seen on Jump Mountain opposite Wilson's Spring. 
In occasional instances the present county roads undoubtedly follow some of 
the minor trails of the red man. The fact that it was nearly fifteen years after 
the beginning of settlement before a second public road was authorized, would 
seem to indicate that the settlers were quite well accommodated with the paths 
they found awaiting them. 

In October, 1751. nine settlers on the lower Cowpasturc petitioned for a 
road over North Mountain to the Borden grant. Next year there was a petition 
for a road "from Kennedy's mill to John Houston's, and from Houston's to the 
great road from Timber Grove to Woods Gap." The twenty names appended 
are chiefly or wholly those of settlers in the north of tlie Burden land. About 
this time, twenty-one men living toward the west of the present county ask 
for a road from Joseph ling's mill to James Young's mill, and to William Hall's 
on North Kiver, and into the great road on James Thompson's plantation. They 
explain that it was their course "to meeting, mill, and market." In 1753 a road 
was ordered from Campbell's schoolhousc to the Rcnick road. The twenty-five 
tithables mentioned therewith were in the lower part of the present coimty. or 
within the present Botetourt line. 

The first road precincts were necessarily few and large, and all that the 
small working force could accomplish was to open a rough and ready path 
capable of admitting a wagon. When Botetourt began local government in 
1770, there were only thirty-nine road precincts in the long distance from Kerr's 
Creek to the Tennessee line. But in 1859 the road precincts within Rockbridge 
were 102. 

The old roads were "straight, steep, narrow, and rocky." An undated peti- 
tion, probably of near the year 1R80. says that the mountain roads were unpleas- 
ant, and for carriages dangerous, because much obstructed by rocks, for the 
removal of which the law made no provision. Nevertheless, the public opinion of 
the colonial age required that the public highways be kei)t up to a certain stan«l- 
ard. Many a road overseer was presented by the grand jury for failing to 
keep his track in order, or for not putting up "indexes" at the forks as recjuired 
by law. An acting justice was ineligible as a commissioner of roads. 

Until just after 1840. the roads were worked by compulsory labor. The 
roa<l levy, which now became law, seems to liavc caused considerable dissatis- 
faction. In 1843 the surveyor was allowed $1.00 a day, the common laborer fifty 
cents. A man with a plow, two horses, and a driver was paid $1 50. In 1845 
the rates were a<lvanced to $1.25 for the surveyor, and seventy-five cents for the 
workman. For cart, horse, and driver, the allowance was $1.25. In 1861 the 
levy was $1.50 per capita, or two days in labor. 


According to a petition of 1802 there were several forges west of the Blue 
Ridge, and yet all wagons had to go to Rockfish Gap in order to cross the 
mountain. From this and other authorities, we glean some idea of the cost 
of travel a century ago. The petition just named says it took twelve to fifteen 
days for a wagon to make a roundtrip to the markets east of the South Mountain. 
About thirteen barrels of flour made a load for four horses, and it usually sold 
at $5.00 a barrel. Merchandise to the amount of 5,000 to 6,000 pounds was 
hauled back at a charge of $1.30 per hundredweight. A load of flour was often 
retailed before coming to Richmond. The teamsters had regular stands where 
feed was left to be used on the return. In 1806 William \\'ilson spent $21.40 in a 
round-trip to Richmond. T. Wayt turned in a bill of $56.50 for an absence of 
thirteen days, while taking a patient to the hospital for the insane at Williams- 
burg. Wayt went with a guard and an impressed horse. When J. D. Davidson 
set out from Eagle Tavern in Lexington, in 1836, he paid $50.00 in stage fares 
before he reached the Ohio at the mouth of the Guyandotte. Thence, to New 
Orleans, his steamboat fare was $120.00. \\^hen this book was begun, a person 
could journey from Goshen to the Ohio river for about $4.90, and in less than a 
tenth of the time that Davidson had to use. And furthermore, the $4.90 was 
easier to get hold of than it was eighty years earlier. Even in 1848, which w^s 
before the iron horse had cut any figure west of the Alleghanies, it took the 
family of Cyrus H. McCormick twelve days to go to Chicago, then a city of 
20,000 people. 

As for postal rates, six cents would not carry a letter even thirty miles in 
1838. If the distance were from thirty to eighty miles, the postage was ten 
cents ; if it exceeded 400 miles, the charge was twenty-five cents. 

Between the wars of 1812 and 1861 there was great interest in turnpike 
roads. The railroad was unknown in America until 1829, and not until 1848 did 
it reach the Alleghanies at any point. The country was vast, and unless good 
wagon roads were to be had, the interior districts were doomed to be most 
seriously handicapped. But the United States was poor as well as vast, and 
"metaled" roads, such as were being extended over populous Europe, were sel- 
dom possible. Most of the turnpikes of that period were simply well-graded "dirt 
roads." A petition of 1836 tells us that what was styled a piked road cost 
$784 a mile, or forty-four and one-half cents a yard. Several of the longer lines 
were usually built by private companies. The funds were rai.sed by subscription 
or by lottery, and the stockholders looked to the tollgate for their dividends. But 
the charter for a turnpike was not always followed by a visible highway. There 
were paper turnpikes in those days, just as there were paper railroads at a later 
time. One of these was chartered in 1853. It was to take form as a macadamized 
way from Collierstown to the mouth of North River. 


The Lexington and Covington Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1829 
with an authorized capital of $20,000, a sum which today would scarcely make 
a respectable beginning. The width was to be sixteen feet on North Mountain, 
and twenty feet elsewhere, but in 1851 there was permission to reduce the width 
to eighteen feet if livestock were exempted from toll. The route was sur\'eyed 
by Claude Crozet, and the road was completed in .\ugust, 1832. Alx)ut the same 
time the pike from Lexington to Millboro was built. In 1830 a lottery was 
authorized for the raising of $30,000 for a road from I^xington to New Glas- 
gow in Amherst. Five years later a sur>'ey was ordered for a road from Lex- 
ington to Richmond by way of White's Gap. The capital was placed at $75,000. 
and the tollgatcs were to be fifteen miles apart. A petition of 1847 asks for a 
macadamized road between Staunton and Buchanan. The raid along the base 
of College Hill from Lexington to North River was piked with stone as early 
as 1820. Until the railroad appeared, this seems to have been about the only 
piece of road within the county that was actually macadamized. 

While the furor for planked roads held possession of N'irginia. a highway 
of this description appeared in the southeast of Rockbridge. The road in ques- 
tion is still sometimes known as the "Plank Road." hut it is hardly necessary to 
add that the planking soon rotted away. 

It appears to have been somewhat earlier than 1820 that fifty-four petitioners 
ask the amendment of a recent law, so as to exempt them from working the high- 
ways outside the limits of Lexington, except with respect to the ford in North 
River. Tliey also ask that it be made unlawful to gallop horses in the streets of 
the town. They announce that they would rather ])ay in due proportion for the 
repair of the streets than be called upon to work them 

It was a long while Ix-fore the fords and ferries in the larger ^t^ealns were 
superseded by bridges. In 1834 Colonel John Jordan contracted to bridge North 
River near his mill at a cost not to exceed $1,500. The bridge was to have two 
passage-ways. Yet it was twenty-five years earlier that Jordan and his partner, 
John Morehead, asked leave to put in a toll-bridge near their new flouring mill. 

A century ago the stage was what the rail-car and the motor-car are now. 
The early carriages had an attachment underneath that was in the form of a 
hayfork. It could be let down to serve as a brake. Stages of an improvised 
type api>eare<l alKJut 1825. Ry 1820 a stage came to Lexington three times a 
week. In 18.36 there were stages twice a week on the I-exington and Covington 
pike. The tollgates east of the /Mleghany line were at .Armentrout's. at the 
foot of North Mountain, and at Hugh Mackey's. midway Intween Lexington 
and Armentrout's. The species of gentleman known in the Old West as the 
"road agent" sometimes paid his respects to a stage, ancj the merchant who went 
to the city to buy goods carried a |)istol 


The waterway has always been a cheap means of transportation. Attention 
was early directed to the outlet afforded by the James and North rivers. A 
petition of 1810 states that North River has been cleared out, and it asks that the 
county court be given authority to levy not more than $200 a year to keep 
the channel open. An Act of 1811 gave the necessary authority, but roused the 
wrath of certain of the inhabitants. They say the benefit was not general, and 
declare many of the people knew nothing of the measure until it became law. 

Sluice navigation from Richmond to Balcony Falls was open in 1816, and 
to Buchanan in 1827, but the James River and Kanawha Canal, incorporated 
in 1831, did not reach Balcony Falls until about 1850, nor Buchanan until 1851. 
During the intervening third of a century the batteau was used in moving pro- 
duce from Rockbridge to Tidewater. This craft was a narrow boat about ninety 
feet long, and it was propelled by poles. In the center was a canvas awning 
eight to ten feet long. Three negroes made a crew. As cargo, seventy-five bar- 
rels of flour could be taken on. If tobacco were the load, the hogsheads — seven 
to ten in number — lay lengthwise with the boat. It was comparatively easy to go 
down stream, but since it was difificult to "shove back," after getting above the 
smooth waters in the lower James, the batteau was sometimes disposed of at 
Richmond. The nightmare of the voyage was Balcony Falls. In this four-mile 
pass the James falls some 200 feet, and the channel is beset with rocks. The few 
steersmen who could put a craft through "Bal-co-ny" were in much demand at 
high wages, yet in time of high water not a few of the batteaux were broken 
on the rocks. Pig iron, of which from five to eight tons made a cargo, was 
recovered in some quantity in after years, at times when the water in the pass 
was very low and clear. During the reign of the batteau, boat building was quite 
a business at several places in the county. The leading boat captains were John 
Hamilton, Samuel McCorkle, and Elisha Paxton. It was during this period that 
Cedar Grove, as the head of navigation on North River, was almost fhe metrop- 
olis of Rockbridge. After the coming of the canal it fell into utter decay. 

By a majority of 217 in a total vote of 615, this county subscribed $15,000 to 
the North River Navigation Company in an election held June 1, 1850. .'K further 
subscription of $29,950 was carried August 23, 1851, 687 citizens voting for it and 
385 against it. At the close of the war of 1861 the interest on the principal of 
$26,115.44 amounted to $2,856.75. 

From Glasgow to Lexington the canal was built in sections, arriving at 
East Lexington in 1852. As each section was opened to travel, a warehouse 
was built. The first one above Balcony Falls was at Miller's, half way to 
Bucna \'ista. Anotlier was at Thompson's, several miles farther on, and a third 
was at the mouth of South River. Lentil a warehouse ceased to be a terminal 
it was a very important place. Goods were wagoned on to Lexington and more 


remote points in tlu- toimtv 1 in- c;iiiai l>oat \\oul<l >t(i]> anywhere to take on or 
put off freight. Tlic crew would even help a fanner to thresh, so as to secure the 
moving of his wheat, rrciglit was paid to the owner of the boat, and a toll to the 
canal conipaiiy. In 1855 more than 7,000 tons went down the canal. This 
inchided 18.879 barrels of flour, 7,500 bushels of wheat, and 2.226 tons of pig and 
bar iron. In 1860 the freight to Richmond on a barrel of flour was sixty cents. 
In 1853 there went down 150,000 bushels of corn and 60.000 gallons of whiskey. 

In all. there were six canal dams on the two rivers. There were live locks 
on the James, within the limits of this county, and fifteen on Xorth River. 

The first packet boat to reach Lexington arrived Xovcmlicr 15, 1860. 

These passenger conveyances made three trips a week. The packet was 
drawn by three horses, a shift being made every twelve miles. The speed of four 
miles an hour was much more rapid than that of the freight boat. 

The canal continued in use until put out of business by the railr(«a<ls soon 
after 1880. As late as May, 1878. it was repaired by convict labor. In 1876 
iron and whiskey were still the chief items of export. Ruined dams, grass-grown 
locks, and eni|)ty sections of canal bed remain as landmarks of a vanished era. 

Almost thirty years before the railway locomotive entered Rockbridge, the 
Virginia and Tennessee — now the Norfolk and Western — had passed to the south- 
ward, and the \'irginia Central — now the Chesapeake and Ohio — had come to 
Staunton. In 1860 a company was chartered to build a line from Goshen to 
Rockbridge .Mum. But it was not until after the war of 1861 that a serious effort 
was made to bring a railroad to Lexington. 

A subscription of $100,000 was voted to the \'alley in Novemlxjr, 
1866. This was followed by one of $.^00,000 in ncccmber. 1868. and by one of 
$125,000 in July, 1871. To the third subscription Lexington added $.^.000. 
making a grand total of $555,000. /\ contr.ict for building the railroad from 
Stauntnn to Saleni was let in May. 187.V A financial crash came the same year 
and nearly paralyzed industrial activity all over the L'nited States. It was ten 
more years before the \'alley Railroad reached the county seat of RfKkbridgc. 
The sum of $1,250,000 was spent on the stretch of thirty-six miles between 
Staunton and Lexington, and $800,000 was sprinkled over the eighty-six miles 
between Lexington and Salem. The cuts, fills, and abutments that are scattered 
Ix-twecn these two points are mute witnesses to a waste of good monev. To 
Rockbridge the result was doubly unfortunate. The county had only a partial 
return for its investment- Instead of the central portion Ix-ing crossed by an im- 
portant track, it is merely entered by the now isolated and unimportant \'alley 
section of the Baltimore and Ohio. The possibility of its complelion was fondly 
discussed in the county papers as late as 1906. 

A very important frcighKarrying branch of the Cliesapeake and Ohio sys- 


tcni was built between Clifton Forge and Richmond under the name of the 
Richmond and Alleghany Railroad. The Lexington extension was completed 
October 14. 1881, the main line along the James a month earlier. In the same year 
the Shenandoah Valley Railroad was built through the eastern side of the county. 
Two years later, as we have seen, the Valley Railroad finally came to Lexington. 
The Richmond and Alleghany line was at length acquired by the Chesapeake 
and Ohio Company, and the Shenandoah Valley by the Norfolk and Western. 
During the period while all the railways entering Rockbridge were dominated 
by the Pennsylvania system, the Lexington extension of the Chesapeake and 
Ohio was made to connect with the Norfolk and Western track at Glasgow. The 
ten mile section between Balcony Falls and Lock Laird was then dismantled. 
From the very first all the trains entering the county seat used one track be- 
tween that point and East Lexington. The main line of the Chesapeake and 
Ohio had crossed the northern corner of Rockbridge as early as 1856. 

The total mileage of the Chesapeake and Ohio within this county is 30.36 
miles, and it is assessed at $657,208.70. The Norfolk and Western mileage is 
36.45 miles, and its assessment, $620,892. The Baltimore and Ohio mileage is 
17.38 miles, and it is assessed at $154,950. Consequently, there are 84.19 miles 
of railway in Rockbridge with an assessed value of $1,433,050.70. This aggre- 
gate does not include about eighteen miles of lumber railway up Irish Creek to 
the county line. This spur will be in use some years, and if the tin ores in that 
valley are successfully developed it may become permanent. There was formerly 
a railroad track up Bratton's Run to Rockbridge Alum, thus realizing for a 
while the project of 1860. 

When the year 1918 began, the passenger fare of two and one-half cents 
a mile on the Norfolk and Western and the Qiesapeake and Ohio lines, and 
three cents on the Valley line was a striking reduction from the five cent rate 
charged in 1881. 


RoTKBtiDCE AcmvLTfRE— Manvfactvbes — Miu.s — TiiF. Iron Ivdi'stry— Tis Mine 

Of pioneer agriculture sonutliitig has already l>cen >aid. It was criidc .and 
laborious, and was carried on for a century in almost entire ignorance of labor- 
saving machinery. The conservation of soil fertility was little appreciated. Was 
there not still a large amount of uncleared ground? .\nd was there not a well- 
nigh boundless wilderness of virgin soil in the direction of the setting sun? 
So long as considerations like these seemed a sufficient answer, there was little in- 
centive toward intensive farming. 

But the methods in use were not entirely wasteful. Before and during 
the Revolution a great deal of hemp was grown, and this crop requires good 
soil. After Kentucky was comfortably open to settlement, hemp culture dis- 
appeared from Virginia, and migrated to the Bluegrass State and to Missouri. 
Yet with this drain on the virgin fertility, Rockbridge has continued to produce 
a very considerable surplus of wheat, wool, and dairy products, and an ample 
amount of corn and hay. In 1850 it was growing twice as much wheat as was 
needed at home, and its cornfields yielded twenty-three bushels per capita. It 
was not until the coming of the canal and afterward the railroad that this county 
had a convenient access to the markets of the outside world. 

Flax growing disappeared with the arrival of the great city factory, and is 
now but a fast fading recollection. The fiber crops have become extinct, yet 
the other staples remain substantially the same as they always were. They 
comprise corn, wheat, hay, and oats, and small amounts of rye. buckwheat, and 
barley. The chief innovation is the growing of apples on a commercial scale. 
For this puqwsc the high-lying and relatively thin lands are well suited. 

The farms of the colonial period were quite well stocked with domestic 
animals, which, however, were not so large as the improved breeds of the present 
day. Yet the pioneers were not indifferent to good stock. In 1752 James Fulton 
mentions a pacing mare purchased in New Fngland. 

By 1877 a very perceptible improvc-ment in farming mctho<ls was noted. 
Yet as early as 1839, we hear of the Rockbridge .Agricultural Society, which under 
the style of the Rockbridge .Agrictiltural and Mechanical ScKicty. was still in 
existence in 1860. In the year last named an agricultural department was appear- 
ing regularly in the Gasette. A two pound tomato in 1857 — before improved 
varieties had l>cen thought of — and a turnip of four and one-half pounds indicate 
that the antcbclhnn tillage was not to l>e clespiscd. 


In 1910 the production of corn and the cereals was about 1,000,000 bushels, 
grown on one-eighth of the county's area. The yield of corn was at the rate 
of ahuost thirty bushels to the acre, which is distinctly above the average for the 
United States in a series of years. The showing with respect to potatoes and the 
cereals was not quite so favorable. Yet yields of wheat of tliirly to thirty-six 
bushels to the acre are sometimes obtained, and in 1917 the value of the wheat 
threshed from twelve acres near Raphine was $1,000. In the Boys' Corn Club 
contest of 1911, the prize winner grew lOAyi bushels on one acre, demonstrating 
the possibilities that lie in thorough and well-directed work. But the unsightly 
gullies and the galled spots seen on occasional slopes are evidence to a former 

Despite the great inroads into the uncleared surface, both for farming and 
the marketing of lumber and other forest products, there is still a large wooded 
area in Rockbrdge. In the Blue Ridge an extensive acreage has been taken 
over by the National government as a forest reserve. 

Rockbridge has been little conspicuous as a manufacturing district. What 
was true of the early period was true of Appalachian .Vmerica in general. The 
farm home was more or less a workshop. There were hatters as well as tailors 
and shoemakers ; the blacksmith was a small iron-worker ; the wheelwright made 
wagons as well as repaired them ; the cabinet-maker made tables, bureaus, and 
bedsteads. But the great factory, aided by rapid transit, has driven the home 
mechanic to a dependence on repair service. In 1850, the census could report only 
$22,018 as the value of home manufactures. 

Nevertheless, this page of the industrial chapter was not a blank one. The 
first McCormick reapers were made near Midway. This county was the pioneer 
in building iron plows to supersede those with the wooden mouldboard. Such 
a one, known as the Lexington plow, was being manufactured at Riverside 
in 1832. Two years later was chartered the Rockbridge Manufacturing Company 
with a minimum capital of $10,000 and a maximum of $100,000. It was to build 
on North River, on the lands of John Jordan and the heirs of John Morehead 
a mill for cotton, woolen, and hemp goods. In 1856 there is mention of the Rock- 
bridge Woolen Factory. The wool clip of this county is placed at 30,469 
pounds in the census of 1850. 

The gristmill came early and has been well represented ever since. The 
first in the county was that of John Hays. It was built about 1740, and must 
have been a specimen of the primitive affair known as the tubmill. But Mays 
had a fulling mill by 1751, and probably earlier. It was perhaps the same fulling 
mill which was carried on at a somewhat later date by Joseph Kennedy. Petitions 
for leave to build gristmills were sent in to the county court in 1747 by Henry 
Gay, James .\llison. John Hodge, and John Edmondson. David Moore, Joseph 


Ijong, and James Voung liad mills in 1751. Young's mill was al ihc mouth 
of Kerr's Creek. The first we hear of on the lower ButTalo was that of Thomas 
Paxton, probably built a little earlier than the Revolution. By 1820, grist and 
saw mills had become rather numerous. Outside of South River and Walker's 
Creek districts — from neither of which we have any report — there are now eleven 
flouring mills and two other mills that grind corn. 

When we come to the iron industry there is a larger story to tell. The 
smelting of iron began west of the Blue Ridge in 1700, and the beginning seems 
to have been in Rockbridge. By 1779 we know that Daniel Dougherty was 
operating a forge near the mouth of Irish Creek. It is said that cannonballs 
made here were fired al the British in Yorktown in 1781. In 1799, there is 
mention of the forges of McCluer and Nicholas Vanstaveni. The fonner seems 
to have been near the site of Buena \'ista. 

In 1835 Martin speaks of the Bath Iron Works as making thirty tons of 
pig a week. This furnace employed sixty-five workmen and had a dependent 
population of 150. A petition of 1850 speaks of seven furnaces on or near 
North River with a capacity of 7.000 Ions of miial a year. To arpuc the im- 
portance of river im])rovemcnt, the petition says it was costing $2.00 a Ion to 
haul iron from I-cxington to Balcony I'alls, and $5.50 to have it sent thence to 
Richmond. With navigation all the way, it was believe<l the cost of freight 
could be reduced one-half. In 1853 there were four furnaces, with a capital of 
$90,000 and a yearly output of 4,000 tons of pig metal ; three forges, with a 
capital of $.W.000 and an output of 500 tons; and two foundries making 400 
tons of castings. 

In the old days of the iron industry, the metal was shipped as i)ig and sold 
at about $20.00 a ton. The workmen were mostly slaves from east of the Blue 
Ridge, hired from their masters for $60.00 to $80.00 a year. Merchants traded 
for a good deal of the metal and hired farmers during their slack season to 
wagon it to Scottsvillc. The round trip consumed a week. On the return the 
\' tirought goods for the Rockbridge stores. The coming of the canal 

■ 'I the marketing of iron, but at the present moment the iron industry in 
this county is carried on only at Buena Vista and Goshen. From the latter 
point a railway was built tip the valley of Brallon's Run to reach the deposits of 
ore in the bordriim' iiKiiiiil.-iiiis This line li:is bren dismantled vet is likilv to }«■ 

TJie Balli liirnace stoo<l al the sotith eiul ol Little (Jo^lien I'ass, a short 
distance alx/vc the mouth of the Little Calf pasture. A mile below was a foundry, 
and near Rockbridge Baths was still another. A third foundry, last known 
as Weaver's, stood on the Buflfalo, a mile above the mouth of the stream. 
In its palmy days BufTalo Korgc was a busy industrial place. The Buena Vista 



furnace stood near the town of tliat name. The Vesuvius furnace was twelve 
miles above on South River. Mount Hope, built about 1850, was on Bratton's 
Run near Rockbridge Alum. A mile from Mount Hope was the California fur- 
nace. The Rockbridge Foundry was on the south side of Irish Creek, a half mile 
above its mouth. In 1856 it was operated by T. B. Taylor and T. P. McDowell. 

The furnaces of Rockbridge were blast furnaces and used charcoal. Little 
was then known of the coal deposits west of the Alleghany, and they were prac- 
tically inaccessible. Some day the iron industry will assume greater proportions 
than ever in this county, but we cannot expect this to happen so long as the sand- 
like ores of Lake Superior, which may be scooped up with a steam shovel, 
are sufificient for the needs of the country. 

In the files of the Richmond Times-Dispatch is the following paragraph re- 
lating to the antebellum iron industry of this county : 

As the tourist rides througli the mountains, he will see close to some roaring torrent the 
ruins of old stone blast furnaces overgrown with ivy and bright with the fiery-tmted trum- 
pet flower, gentle and dainty reminders of the ruddy glare of other days, of the sparks and 
flames from these forgotten shrines of Vulcan. The famous Jordan family, iron kings 
of the antebellum days, freighted their product down the James to the foundries and 
machine shops of Richmond. After the Union blockade of Southern ports, the Confe.leiaoy 
found almost its entire supply of iron in tne \'irginia mountains. 

Well up the valley of Irish Creek is what is known as the tin mine. Here 
is a deposit of tin ore, which has been traced some distance along the axis 
of the Blue Ridge. Machinery was put in place some time ago, but shipping 
facilities proved to be too inconvenient, and the mine has never ye^ come into 
practical operation. However, it has lately come under the control of some Boston 
capitalists, and may be rehabilitated. There are methods of handling the ore 
which were unknown at the first attempt to exploit the deposits. The lack i,f this 
knowledge was a great obstacle to success. 



PtESBXTCtiANisw IN RocKiwiDCB— New Providknce— Timbe* Ridge — Orun Eari v MEtrrtNc 

Houses — The Methodist Chi'ech — The Baitist 

Chukch — Thk Epis<t)rAL CiiutrH — 

Rl w \l (~ll I hi If KS 

Ever since the Protestant RefoinialiDii liok niot in Scotland, the Tresbytcrian 
has been the national churcli of that country. Tiie pioneers of Rockbridge were 
staunch upholders of this faith, and brought its creed with them. The first 
regular Presbyterian sermon in Augusta was preached in 1738 in the house of 
John Ixwis near Staunton. The minister was James Anderson. 

\\'hen American independence was declared, the Presbyterians and the sects 
allied to them in religious belief constituted the strongest religious force in the 
land. The New England section was overwhelmingly Congregationalist. The 
Dutch Reformed and the German Reformed churches were conspicuous in the 
Middle Colonies. Presbyterianism was heavily represented wherever the Ulster- 
man had gone. .Ml these sects were at nne in creed and differed only in metho<ls 
of church government. It was mainly l>ecause of the democratic spirit per- 
vading this group of churches that the War for Independence was successful. 
The Presbyterian minister was a leader of opinion. His church would not ordain 
a man who could not teach, and frmn it< i-l.-n^- it rx.irti-.l .t high order of edu- 
cational attainment. 

Before the Revolution, according to the Reverend Samuel Houston, the peo- 
ple of New Providence kept Sunday with great strictness. Howe adds that the 
gay amusements of Tuckahoe Virginia were here unknown. There was little 
social intercourse outside of the churchyard. P.ut the influence of camo life 
during the Revolution was very demoralizing, and the change for the worse 
thus set in motion was not counteracted by certain of the new families that 
settled in Rockbridge. Yet there were no revivals in the Valley of Virginia 
until the fall of I7R8, and they were not well thought of by the Ulster-.Americans 
However, there was a schism among the Presbyterians in the colonial per'ni'.. 
The conservative wing was known as the "Old Side," and the progressive as the 
"New Side," or "New Lights." The Rockbridge congregations allied them- 
selves with the progressives. Ihesc di(Tere<l with the Old .Side in approving the 
outdoor, unconventional, and revivalistic preaching of George Whitefield. who 
made a tour of the colonies in l/.^O^l. The breach is said to have been healed in 
1758, yet something of the rift remained. 


The perfervid, emotional campmeeting oratory of a century ago some- 
times caused that nervous derangement in the hearer which was known as the 
"jerks." Ann Henderson was seized with this manifestation in Timber Ridge 
meeting house, Sunday, August 4, 1805. Major Samuel Houston told her it 
would not do to dance during the preaching, and he took her outside. He was 
as.sisted by James Decker and resisted by Daniel Lyle. Houston was presented 
for disturbing public worship, but his course was upheld by the pastor and the 
congregation generally. 

For sixteen years there was no settled minister in Rockbridge, although the 
immigrants were visited by Alexander McDowell and others. Three ministers, 
McDowell, Alexander Craighead, and William Dean, acquired land in the Borden 
grant or on the South River. Craighead lived on the Cowpasture a little below 
ilillboro Springs, and Dean on Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania. In 1746 John 
Blair effected church organization at New Providence, Timber Ridge, Mon- 
mouth, and Falling Springs. But for seven years longer there was no resident 
minister at any of these places. 

The log meeting houses at New Providence, Timber Ridge, and Falling 
Springs were accepted as houses of worship by the court of Aitgtista, May 20, 
1748. And as the order-book informs us that the one at Timber Ridge was in 
place in February of the same year, it could scarcely have been built later than in 
the fall of 1747. The statement we have seen that it was built in 1742 is very 
doubtful. The log Timber Ridge church had high pulpit, split-log seats, and earth 
floor. The pioneer church in this county was always a log structure. It was 
usually succeeded by a stone building, and then by a brick. 

There seems to be some fogginess as to how New Providence came by its 
name. Archibald Alexander said his grandfather worshipped at a Providence 
church near the site of Morristown, New Jersey. Some families of that con- 
gregation came to "New Virginia," built a New Providence, and when it had 
become inconveniently small, another New Providence was put up on Timber 
Ridge. On the other hand, the name Providence is said to have been adopted 
at the suggestion of John Houston, because of the harmonious spirit shown by 
the people in selecting a site. Yet the name New Providence is used in the call 
refused by Mr. Byram in 1748. Another call was at once presented to William 
Dean, but he died the same year. In 1753 the call extended to John Brown by 
114 attendants at New Providence and Timber Ridge was accepted. 

The first home of the New Providence congregation stood close to the log 
academy of Robert Alexander. The location was at length deemed unsatisfac- 
tory, and after some discord it was decided to move into the valley of Hays 
Creek. About 1789 some of the members took offense at the singing of the 


hymns by Isaac Walts, and built a stone meeting house on the old site, which 
became known as Old Providence. It lies a mile beyond the Rockbridge btiundary. 

For a goo<l will consideration. Joseph Kennedy conveyed three acres and 
118 rods of ground to the trustees of New Providence meeting house. Tiie 
deed is dated August 21, 1754, and says the building is already under way. 
It was not then known that sand for the nuirtar could Ik- found any nearer than 
South Kiver. A supply was brought from that watcrcnurse in sack-loads, each 
horse in the train carrying a girl as well as a sack. An armed escort was in at- 
tendance. A sycamore seed brought from the river took root in the sand-pile, 
and grew into a tree that is yet standing. Nails and glass came by packsaddlc 
from Philadelphia, and were paid for with butter carried to market in the 
same way. But for want of means, the meeting house was not finished for about 
seventeen years, and swallows made nests inside. In 1771, Brice Hanna. who 
had contracted to complete the building, failed and went to parts unknown. 
The brick structure which now serves the congregation dates from 1859, and is 
the fifth in the series. Its immediate predecessor, also of brick, was crecle*! 
in 1812. 

John Brown was pastor forty-five years. His first ciders were John Houston, 
Samuel Houston, James Wilson. .Xndrew Steele, and John Roliinson. The 
salary promised Mr. Brown was 120 pounds, or $400. The most liberal giver at 
the start was Andrew Steele, who contributed $7.22. John Bowyer subscribed 
two pounds. The minimum was five shillings, or eighty-three cents. John 
Brown went to Kentucky and was very soon succeeded by Samuel Brown. 
The third pastorate was that of James Morri.son, who was here from 1819 to 1857. 
E. D. Junkin, was pastor from 1860 to 1871. C. R. X'aughn from 1871 to 1881, and 
G. A. Wilson from 1890 to 1908. The wife of Samuel Brown was Mary Moore, 
whose second daughter wedded James Morrison, the next pastor. The wife of 
H. W. Mclaughlin, pastor since 1909, is a later descendant of Mary Moore 
Brown, whose grave in the extensive and well-kept churchyard is often inquired 
for by visitors. 

A Sunday school was organized at New Providence in 18.W, the first super- 
intendent being James, a son of Samtiel Brown. The revival of June, 1834. 
caused the memlK-rship to rise to 591. It was here that the Synod of Virginia 
was organized in 1788. and the centennial of this event was observed in October. 

Until suspen<led in 1917. <in war considerations, there had for some twenty 
years Inren an annual chrysanthemum exhibit at New Providence. The money 
derived from a small admission fee and from suppers and other adjuncts wa.s 
u»c<l in the exi)cnses of the church. The fine floral displays liecamc widely 
known, and drew crowds of people froni withiti a radius of more than twenty 
miles. A further attraction was the opportunity for social intercourse. 



It is worthy of mention that the New Providence built at McAfee Station. 
Kentucky, in the dawn of Kentucky settlement, and the New Providence of Blount 
county, Tennessee, were in reality daughter churches of the New Providence of 
Rockbridge. Another New Providence arose in the west of North Carolina. 

The log Timber Ridge meeting house stood some distance north of the 
present church. The spot is on rising ground, about 100 yards east of the nine- 
mile post on the turnpike, and near a log schoolhouse no longer in use. Nearby 
is an early graveyard, now almost indistinguishable. The logs of the pioneer 
church were built into the dwelling house of M. H. Crist, which was standing 
until after 1906. The stone church was built in 1756 by the eiTorts of about fifty 
families. There was a puncheon floor, high-backed pews with very narrow seats, 
and stone stairways to the gallery. The clerk stood at a desk in front of the 
pulpit and led the singing, the lines being given out in couplets or by verses. 
As in other houses of worship of the pioneer day, there was a sounding- 
hoard above the pulpit, which was placed much higher than in the present custom. 
With considerable enlargement and modernizing, the old stone church is still a 
part of the one now in use. 

The Hanover Presbytery met at Timber Ridge in 1784 and licensed John 
Blair, pastor of the first organized Presbyterian church in Richmond. Two years 
later was held the first session of Lexington Presbytery, attended by twelve min- 
isters. The first elders of this church were Archibald Alexander, John David- 
son. Daniel Lyle, William McClung, Alexander McClure, and John McKay. The 
first pastor was John Brown, who resigned in 1767. William Graham was pastor 
from 1776 to 1785, Daniel Blair from 1802 to 1814, Henry Ruffner from 1819 
to 18v31. The later pastorates number fourteen. 

Hall's Meeting House in the "Forks of the James" stood an hour's walk west 
of Lexington. A deed for the ground was given in 1754. William Dean was 
called in 1748, but there was no regular pastor until William Graham came in 
1776. During this long interval there was occasional preaching by John Craig, 
John Brown, and others. Graham also preached at John McKee's. where Doctor 
Archibald Alexander gave his first exhortation in 1790. The meeting house is 
supposed to have been built about 1748, and is said to have been a large building 
in a beautiful grove. The second was of stone, appeared in 1789, and was given 
the name of New Monmouth. It was torn down in 1902, at which time the locust 
frame and walnut facings were still sound. The present New Monmouth, in 
the valley of Kerr's Creek, is the successor of a brick structure completed in 185.?. 

Doctor John Leyburn has left us an account of the blue limestone Mon- 
mouth, which in his boyhood stood in a dense grove of oak. \ steep outside 
stairway led to the gallery. Above the large pulpit was a sounding-board. The 
pews were very high, and therefore unpopular with the young people. To accen- 


tuatc this peculiarity, the aisles were so low that only the heads and shoulders of 
standing people could be seen. Some came from I>exington. cither afoot or 
mounted, and carried dinner baskets. They entered the meeting house two 
abreast. Outside, the people stood in groups or sat on stones or rude benches. 
The dinner ba.skcts were deposited in the session house. Mothers who could 
not leave their babies at home remained outside and listened. At communion 
time, in spring and fall, religion was a very prominent theme of conversation. 

In 1788 the Presbyterians of Lexington secured one-fourth of William 
Graham's time, thirty-six members subscribing $71.75. The first meetings were 
in a grove on East Washington Street. In 1792 a tent was used. A meeting 
house. Ix'gun 1797, was not completed until 1802, and was enlarged in 1819, wluii 
the membership was ninety-four. The Forty-Third General Association of the 
Southern Presbyterian Church was held in Ix-xington. May 21. 1903. 

Falling Springs, in the valley of Poaguc's Run, one of the Inrst farming 
districts in Rockbridge, is a reminder of the olden time. The brick church lies on 
the border of an extensive burial ground, in which the lettering on some of the 
headstones is quite ancient. No historical sketch of this organization has come to 
our hand. 

Ben Salem, southeast from Lexington, arose in \&M, or according to 
another account, not until 1846. The present church was built in 1884. 

The organization at Bethesda was clTected at Wilson's Spring in 1821 with 
fourteen members. The first church was dedicated in 1843, the second and 
present one in 1876. The first regular pastor was W. W. Trimble, who served 
from 1853 to 1865. There were 20'> memhers when W. W. McMlwce closed his 
long pastorate in 1901. The McElwcc Memorial Chapel on Oak Hill was dedi- 
cated in 1905. 

Oxford is not within the Borden Tract, as is sometimes affirmed. The 
Henry Borden who is associated with its history was a stonemason living on 
Collier's Creek. There seems to be no evidence that he was related to Benjamin 
Borden, the patentee. An "eight-cornered" meeting house is said to have been 
built as early as 1763. A limestone structure followed in 1811. and the present 
brick church was completed in 1867. The first minister was James Power, who 
declined a call and returned to Pennsylvania in 1773. Samuel Hotiston. Daniel 
Blain. and Andrew Davidson preached here from 1794 to 1843, Mr Davidson's 
long term beginning 1803. Altogether, this church has had twenty pastorates. 
There arc no continuous records prior to 1843. 

A church at Collicrstown was bviilt in 1837 and was followed by a brick 
building completed in 1856. 

The wills recorded in this county throw sonic light on the philantlirojiic and 
missionary spirit among the «'arlv prople. John!,i ws. Sr., left $10.00 in 

U o 

X 't. 

7. ;- 

•3 .s 


'* s. 


= I 

> ° 
= c 


1757 to the poor of the parish of Augusta. Hugh Weir in 1821 left $150.00 to 
the American Board of Foreign Missions to educate a Hindoo boy, who was to 
bear his name after baptism. Cynthia Cloyd in 1830 gave to foreign missions 
and other church work $500.00 in money and five shares of stock in the Bank of 
the Valley. 

A church census taken in Lexington a few years since gave the following re- 
sult : Presbyterians, 899; Methodists, 713; Baptists, 350; Episcopalians, 198; 
Roman Catholics, forty-two; Associate Reformed Presbyterians, twenty-eight; 
Lutherans, twenty-three ; Mormons, eighteen ; Jews, sixteen ; other denominations, 
ten; no preference, thirty; total, 2,327. Perhaps the tally for the Presbyterians 
and the Methodists at the county seat fairly indicates their proportions for the 
county in general. With respect to the Baptists and Episcopalians, it would 
appear to e.xceed the proportion. At all events, a vast majority of the church 
members of this county are of the four communions above named. 

Methodism began as a society within the Church of England, and for the 
upbuilding of a higher type of religious character than was commonly found in 
the England of the eighteenth century. When the war of the Revolution came on, 
the Methodists of America were as yet almost insignificant in point of number. 
Their leaders took the unwise course of urging them not to uphold American 
independence, and in this way a reproach little deserved was cast upon the 
society. American Methodism took its stand as an independent church in 1784. 
To its flexible itinerant system and its adaptability to frontier conditions are due 
its wonderful progress. 

The first Methodists to preach in the Valley of Virginia were John Haggerty 
and Richard Owen, who came about 1770. They do not seem to Jiave penetrated 
as far as Rockbridge, and we have no definite mention of a Methodist preacher of 
any sort until 1793, when William Craven, a stonemason and also a local preacher, 
came from Rockingham to build the stone academy on Mulberry Hill. But 
in the Gazette for 1873 we are told that John Burgess and his large family were 
the first Methodists in Lexington. They came in 1823, and the first Methodist 
sermon at the county seat was preached in the Burgess home. A plain frame 
church soon appeared, and Presbyterians and others assisted in building it. 
About this time John Sheltman and his bevy of rosy-chcekcd daughters came 
from Rockingham. The first meeting house proving too small, a brick building — 
later occupied by colored Methodists — was built in the south side of the town. 
A larger one was then put up on JcfTerson Street. The cornerstone of the pres- 
ent church was laid August 21, 1890. The congregation in Lexington was at 
first a part of a circuit. It is the mother church of Methodism in Rockbridge. 
Previous to the war of 1861, the Methodist Church was in some disfavor in 
this county because of its anti-slavery leaning. The formation of the Methodist 



Episcopal Giurcli South was little fell in Rockbridge for some time, and there \i 
still a congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church in IJufTalo District. 
Otherwise, the white Methodists of Rockbridge are of the Southern branch. 
In 1855 we hear of the Rockbridge Bible Society, which met in the Methodist 
Qiurch of Lexington. 

The oldest Uaptist church in the Augusta Association is Neriah, about five 
miles from Lexington. It dates from 1816. The Baptist church of I^xingtoi 
was organized May 9, 1841, by a council of three ministers — Cornelius Tyrcc, Wi!- 
liam Margrave, and James Rem'.ey — and sixteen constituent members, nine of 
whom were of the Jordan connection. Colonel John Jordan may be regarded :r. 
the founder of this church, and he was one of its first deacons. Cornelius 
Tyree, the first pastor, was followed by seventeen others. The first Sunday school 
superintendent was Professor George E. Dabney, who became a member in 
1843. The first member to be received into fellowship was Milton, a negro, and 
so far as known, he was the first person ever baptized in Lexington by a local 
Baptist pastor. He was a deacon for the colored membership, and seems to 
Iiave been the Milton Smith who was the first pastor of the colored congregation 
after its separation from the white in 1867. Until 1866 the pastor of the Lex- 
ington church divided his lime with other congregations. The iiouse of worship 
built on Nelson Street has been continuously in use, though with some enlarge- 
ment. Since this bo( k was undertaken, a new, modern, and commodious Iiouse 
of worship has been in course of erection on Main Street. Since 1876 the 
congregation has been a member of the Augusta Association. In 1867 the colored 
members, excepting one woman, were granted letters of dismission to organize a 
church of their own, which took effect September 22, 1867, as the Lexington 
African li.iptist Cliurch. The congregation has prospered. Its large building 
cost $25,000, and in 1918 an organ was installed at an expense of $2,000. 

There was a Church of England party in Ulster, and it had an influential fol- 
lowing in Augusta. Thomas Lewis, the founder of the Augusta settlement, was 
a churchman. A house of worship at Staunton was conijileled in 1763. and in 
it was held in 1781 a session of the Virginia Legislature. In 1757 there was a 
"chapel of care" in the Forks of James, and Sampson Mathews drew a stipend 
as reader. In that year his services were discontinued, because of the number 
of people who had fled the locality in consequence of Indian alarms. We have 
no information where this chapel stood, but it must have been in the far south of 
the county or even within the Botetourt line. Possibly it was the "Fork meet- 
ing house" to which a road from Edinondson's mill was ordered in 1753. In 
1804 John Cowman and Molly, his wife, deeded one and three-fourths acres on 
Walker's Creek to the trustees of the Episcopal and Presbyterian congregations, 
each to have equal use and benefit. There seems already to have been a house on 


the lot. The property was sold in 1828 to James McChesney. The first Epis- 
copal church in Lexington was built a litle prior to 1845, and has been supersed- 
ed by the handsome Lee Memorial church in a corner of the University campus. 

In Lexington District, outside the limits of the county seat, are Poplar 
Hill and Liberty Hall Presbyterian churches, both of very recent organization. 
In Buffalo District are the Presbyterian and Methodist churches of CoUierstown, 
both of brick. The former was organized in 1843, the latter about 1850. Another 
early Methodist church is the North Buflfalo. At Rapp's Mill is a union 
cTiurch used chiefly by the Methodists. The first building here was erected about 
1830. Oakdale Baptist church was not organized until about 1916. At Hamil- 
ton's schoolhouse there has been preaching about a century. The building was 
given by Robert Hamilton for the free use of all denominations. The carpenter 
work was done by the father of Governor Letcher. In Kerr's Creek District are 
Kerr's Creek and Chestnut Grove Presbyterian churches, the first organized 
1845, the second, 1910. Ebenezer is a house of worship of the Associate Re- 
formed Presbyterian Church, and Bethany, of the Lutherans. The Methodists 
and Baptists have each a church in the district, but there has been no organization 
of the Church of the Brethren for more than 30 years. In Natural Bridge Dis- 
trict are 13 church buildings. At Glasgow and Glenwood are Presbyterian 
churches. Broad Creek is Associate Reformed Presbyterian. The Episcopal- 
ians have St. Johns, Trinity, and High Bridge, the first at Glasgow, the second 
at Natural Bridge Station. The Baptists have churches at Glasgow and Natural 
Bridge, and at G'.asgow and Buffalo Forge are two others for the colored peo- 
ple. The Methodist churches are Elliott's Mill, Wesley Chapel, Mount Zion, and 
Beth Heron, the last named being at Natural Bridge Station. At Gilmore's 
Mill is a union church. We have no report for the other districts of the county. 

A modern custom that is well nigh universal is to inter the dead in public 
and church cemeteries. The private burial grounds have fallen into disuse and 
sometimes into great neglect. A resident of Kerr's Creek tells us he knows 
nearly 40 of these in that district alone. 


The Liqvor Habit — TtwraiAN' » Kihibu is Ri> Kiiiiii>.t — Sn-trr Oroeu 

It is conceded tliat in llic da>s ut uur gi.iiulp;utiu» ll.c drinking habit was 
very general, and yet it is maintained tliat actual drunkenness rare'.y occurred. 
This claim is a fallacy. It flics in the face of fact and will not sund a serious 
investigation. The illusion en which it is based is well set forth in this couplet : 

'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view, 
And robes the mountains in their azure hue. 

No one but the hidebound apologist for the liquor IrafTic any longer holds 
that alcohol is a food in any true sense of the word. It is a drug, and a drug is 
a poison when used outside of medical limitations. Any drug is out of place 
when the body is in health. Alcohol is invariable in its nature, and among all 
peoples its effect is substantially the same. Whether the cflcct is slow or rapid 
is a matter of temperament and modes of living. That men persist in making an 
exception in favor of alcohol, and are not willing to class it with such habit- 
forming drugs as opium, cocaine, and the loco weed, is because its indiscrimi- 
nate use has been strongly intrenched in social custom. 

The nations of the Baltic .stock have ever shown a proneness to the use of 
intoxicants. The people of Ulster, as a branch of this stock, have been no excep- 
tion. Their inclination to distill whiskey as well as to use it in liberal amount, 
has caused that beverage to displace rum as the leading American intoxicant. 
The drinking habit appears to have been well-nigh universal among the immi- 
grants from Ulster, just as it was among the people of English origin east of the 
Blue Ridge. Alexander Craighead, a minister who owned land in the Borden 
Tract, had his punch-bowl. When James Morri.son came to preach at New 
Providence in 1819, all but one of the eight ciders of his church had their stills. 

Yet only ten years later a temperance society was organized here as the 
result of a letter to the pastor by Captain Henry B. Jones. 

In 1754 a petition to the Augusta court, signed by 91 of the settlers, con- 
demns the "selling by ordinaries of large quantities at cxtrav.igant rates whcrc- 
bv money is drained out of the country." The signers say they intend to pro- 
duce their own liquor and keep their money in the country. There is not the 
least hint that thry arc bolstering up a bad business. They thought it as nec- 
essary a business as any, and believed their aim was most praiseworthy. 

The colonial tavern invariably kept liquors in much variety, even to va- 


rious kinds of wine and brandy imported from France and the Spanish penin- 
sula. All stores likewise kept liquors in stock. For the years 1762-1768, the 
books of William Crow, a merchant of Staunton, show very few long accounts 
that do not contain several charges for drinks. Presentments for the illegal selling 
of liquor are exceedingly common in the court records prior to the civil war. 
The persons who thus exposed themselves to fine were often some of the leading 
members of the community. 

It would be very illuminating if we could know what part was played by 
intoxicants in the innumerable brawls in the courtyards and outside of them; in 
the careless behavior of both combatants and non-combatants during the years of 
the Indian war; and in the conduct of the Indians themselves, the aborigines 
having a weakness for what they expressively called firewater. 

Bad as the situation must have been before the Revolution, it was even 
worse after that event. The demoralization bred in camps was carried home by 
the returned soldiers. Doctor Archibald Alexander relates that a certain Con- 
tinental purchased a house in Lexington, where he collected all the vagrants 
around. Many of the ex-soldiers had been convicts, and were now living in dis- 
sipation on their certificate money. At his resort, drinking bouts would be kept 
up for weeks, and these affairs were enlivened with hard fights. Henry Ruffner 
adds his testimony that in 1844 the Valley had not yet recovered from the dis- 
organizing effects of the Revolution. Between 1790 and 1810, the increase in the 
consumption of distilled liquors was one-half greater in the United States than 
the increase of population. In 1825, 39 pints per capita were consumed, irres- 
pective of the matter of age or sex. It was about this time that an English visi- 
tor — coming from a land of grogshops — said that "intemperance is the most 
striking characteristic of the American people." 

Whether Robert McElheny would succeed his father in 1799 as possessor 
of the parental homestead on Kerr's Creek, was made conditional by a clause in 
the will saying it depended on whether the son "refrained from drinking to ex- 

Speaking in 1873 at the semi-centennial of the Franklin Society, Colonel 
J. T. L. Preston said of the days of his youth that there was "more of open 
and gross drunkenness than now." Here is straightforward testimony from an 
excellent source ; all the better because the speaker's personal recollection be- 
gan in the opening years of the last century. 

In 1853 sixty thousand gallons of whiskey were sent ont by the canal, and 
in 1876 iron and whiskey were the chief items of export from this country. 

A reformation began in Rockbridge about 1829, some societies demanding 
no more than moderation in the use of liquor. No very beneficial effect cf)uld 
come from such a half-loaf as this. The then president of Wasliington College 


called a temperance society of this sort "a well-organized drinking club." The 
first teetotal speech in the county was by C. C. Baldwin in the lecture room of 
the Lexington Presbyterian church. This was in 1836. Within the next twenty 
years a strong sentiment in favor of the extinction of the liquor traffic had de- 
vcldped. In 1854 a petition of this character was signed by two hundred and 
forty people. Another petition of the same year says a majority of the citizens 
will vote for a prohibitory law. Two years earlier we find much indignation at 
the way the liquor business was carried on in the county scat. A petition signed 
by one hundred and eighty-two of the people asked for a search-warrant law. 
It states that there were six joints in Lexington, that fifty negroes had been seen 
entering one of them in an afternoon, and that all efTnrts to punish the seller 
liad failed. But in 1856 no licenses were issued. 

During the war of 1861, the Confederate government passed stringent 
laws against distilling, with a view to the conservation of grain. These efTorts 
were much evaded, and after this war, as after the Revolution, there was for a 
while a great slackening of practical interest in the matter of temperance. An 
ed'torial in the Gazette for December 26, 1873, thus speaks of the holiday revel 
in I^xington. "Christmas was celebrated in Lexington by an unusual amount 
of noise and a profuse liquoring. Main Street was blocked up several times by 
crowds of boisterous negroes. No lady dared to come on the street without 
running the risk of being jostled by staggering men or hearing profane, vulgar 
"Could the excessive use of whiskey be abolished and the carrying of pistols 
stopped, three-fourths or more of the crime of Rockbridge would be elimin.itcd." 

In 1914, this county gave prohibition a majority of 414 votes in a total of 
1790. Of the twenty-three prccints, seventeen supported the measure, and there 
was a tie vote in two of the others. 

During the decade of the 50's, the efTorts to curb the drinking h.nhit largely 
took the form of what were known as temperance societies. They were pat- 
terned after the secret orders, and had constitution and ritual, signs and pass- 
words. Their fraternal and social features made them attractive, and they ex- 
erted a wholesome influence. But the lodges, or "divisions," were lacking in 
permanence. Before the war, the Friends of Temperance and the Sons of 
Temperance were most in favor. During the 70's and 80's, they were succeeded 
by the Good Templars with tJieir more elaborate ritual and tJieir regalia. 



Early Educational Ide.\s — The Literary Fund — John Reardon — The Old Field School 
— The Public School System — Statistical 

During the two centuries that Virginia held to tlie idea that education is a 
concern of private interest only, the training of the young was left wholly 
to private effort, and wherever indifference ruled illiteracy was the result. A 
law of 1809 created a Literary Fund, into which were to he paid certain fines 
and other odds and ends of the public money. The income was to pay the tu- 
ition of those children whose parents were unable to send tl^em to school. The 
intent of the law was benevolent, but it made the beneficiary a species of pauper 
and thus was galling to people of ambition and self-respect. 

A law of 1846 enabled any county to initiate a public school system within 
its own territory. Several of the counties within or beyond the Alleghanies 
availed themselves of this privilege, although it met with little favor in the re- 
maining portion of the state. Rockbridge docs not appear to have been one of 
the counties to take advantage of this law, although in the 50's we find the agent 
for the Literary Fund styled the County Superintendent. But he was only a 
clerk and did not exercise any supervision over the schools. 

The income from the Literary Fund was apportioned among the counties 
according to their respective numbers of free white inhabitants. The disburse- 
ment within a county was in the hands of a board of trustees, one of whom acted 
as a bonded treasurer. It was the duty of this board to ascertain the number 
of indigent children, how many of these would go to school, and for how many 
of the latter number it could pay tuition. With the consent of their parents such 
children were sent to school. Books and other necessaries were provided, but 
the instructions given them did not go beyond the three R's. 

Under this system the people of a neighborhood built a schoolhouse and 
employed the teacher. The latter did not have to get a license, nor attend an 
institute, nor was he sandbagged into subscribing for several educational books 
and journals. If, in the judgment of the patrons, he was sufficiently qualified, 
that was enough. The school was open to all pupils whose parents were able 
and willing to pay tuition. The local board entered into a contract with the 
schoolmaster to teach the indigents for whom it had made provision. The 
teacher had to fill out a blank for each pupil in order to draw the public money 
thus coming to him. 

During this intermediate period, that lay between the reign of the strictly 


private school and the coming of the fuIl-flcdgcd pubhc school, attendance was 
voluntary. The ratio was iiigh or low, according to the degree of educational 
interest in the neighborhood. The time was not ripe for a compulsory law. 
This would have been deemed an encroachment on personal lil)crty. 

Every since the Protestant Kcforniation took root in Scotland, the people 
of that country have been noted for their zeal in the cause of general education. 
John Knox, the apostle of Prcsbytcrianism, insisted on a school in every parish. 
Education was in fact regarded as growing out of a religious need. The ability 
to read the Bible and the catechism was almost an axiom in the Presbyterian 
practice. And since the pioneers of this county were almost wholly from Ulster, 
they were very generally able to read and write. 

As a matter of course the schoolhouse quickly appeared in Rockbridge. 
Rut as education was then altogether a matter of private effort, such mention 
of .schoolhouses or teachers as we find in the public records is purely incidental. 
What is said of them in tradition and miscellaneous sources is very nearly as 
meagre. But schools there were, and the one spoken of in 1753 could not have 
been the earliest. The first teacher in the Borden tract is said to have been a 
man named Carrigan. James Dobbins is named in 174S as the teacher of A\v\- 
nader McNutt. Robert Fulton was a teacher in 1765. 

In 1775 William Alexander came from South River and built a dwelling 
in the fork at the mouth of Woods Creek. There was already a school in the 
forest a half mile north of Clifton, the recent home of F. W. Houston. With- 
in a year, and probably with the help of some neighbors, Mr. Alexander built 
a schoolliousc near a spring a little below the railroad station at I-exington. 
John Reardon, then a servant to Alexander, presided over the school, which 
was a large one. Reardon was a young convict who wrote a fair hand and 
understood bookkeeping. He had read I-atin as far as Virgil and had a reading 
knowledge of the Greek Testament. The teacher did not pretend to exercise 
any authority over the large boys, but he used his switch on the small children. 
While learning their lessons the pupils read as loud as possible, and some of 
them could be heard a quarter of a mile away. Reardon went into the Continen- 
tal service and nearly lost his life in the Waxhaw mass.-icre. Yet he came home, 
reared quite a large family, taught at Timber Ridge, and appears to liave lived 
to old age. 

Except for the quasi-public feature of the Literary Fund, the old field 
school of the period that came to an end just after the civil war was essentially 
the same as the school of the Revolutionary days. The method of instruction 
was nearly the same, the building itself was scarcely better, and its equipment 
was litlc different. Neither was the old field teacher so very much better paid. 
In the colonial time, Charles Knight, a teacher on the Calfpasture, was to have 


$60 for teaching one year, every half -Saturday or every other Saturday to be 
free time. In case of an Indian alarm, he was to be lodged in the settlement. 
But this does not seem to have been a liberal salary, even for that period. 

The day will soon arrive when the old field school will live only in tradi- 
tion and in the accounts that have been thrown into type. One of the most 
readable of the latter is "Memory Days," by Alexander S. Paxton. The writer 
gives an extended account of a school of his boyhood in Arnold's Valley. We 
use his narrative to supplement the reminiscences given to us by Mr. J. A. Parker, 
of Raphine. 

We are told of a log cabin 16 by 18 feet in dimensions, but with a chimney 
that was able to devour a cartload of wood in a day. Except when the door was 
open, all the light that came in entered through a space in one side of the room 
where a log had been left out of the wall. Into this opening was fitted a row of 
window lights. Just below was the writing-board, set at a slant and held in 
place by pegs. The benches were peg-legged puncheons. The school dinner 
was brought from home in a basket. The attendance was large, and it was not 
then considered a hardship to come to school from a distance of two and one- 
half miles. The tuition was $1.25 a month for each pupil, but with a higher 
rate for advanced studies. The term was occasionally ten months long. There 
was neither blackboard nor wail-map. Webster's "blueback" was the spelling- 
book, and there were drills in this study. Sometimes the spelling was "by plank," 
the speller advancing one step for every time he turned another pupil down. 
There was no uniformity in text-books, and for this reason the instruction 
was largely individual. The ink, made of copperas and maple bark, was good 
but it soon used up the noisy quill pens. Discipline was enforced with "hickory 
oil," well rubbed in, and this medicine was sanctioned by public opinion. Fre- 
quently the teacher "boarded round." It was also a custom to go home with a 
delegation of pupils and spend the night at their house. The schoolyard games 
were quoits, hop scotch, corner ball, and town ball. The great event of the 
term was for the scholars to arrive some morning before the teacher, and barri- 
cade the door until he would sign the articles drawn up by them. These usually 
requested a holiday or a treat. But in this contest of wits the victory was of- 
ten with the teacher. Mr. Parker was once handed some articles he was to 
"except," and the misapplied word was used to impart some advice the school 
did not forget. 

The minimum required of the old field teacher was to be good in elementary 
English, to write a fair, round hand, to make goose quill pens, and to use the 
rod freely and with emphasis. Nevertheless, there was manv an old field teacher 
who could give instruction in the classics, if this was desired. The pedagogue 
of that age was nearly always a man, and as he was often of mature years he 
had some prestige in the community. 


The "schoolnia'am" was an infrequent personage, yet she was not non-ex- 
istent. Colonel rrcston speaks of "(Jranny Brownlow." grandmother of the 
war-famous "Parson Brownlow." of Tennessee. She taught an elementary 
school in Lexington. It was her habit to pet the little ones, coax the older ones, 
give tiie ymaU ones apples and cakes, and when they wire sleepy, lay thcni on 
her trundle-bed. 

The colonel also tells of Giarles Tidd, a Connecticut man brought here by 
Captain Leyburn. He was almost illiterate at first, but made a good teacher, 
and a good brick schoolhousc was built for him. When a new educational 
era began to creep in, he retired to the head of Collier's Creek. Tidd was one 
of the pedagogues who did not spare the rod and strap. Another popular and 
successful teacher from the North was Giles Gunn, who taught in the 50's on 
and around Kerr's Creek. 

The free school, fathered by W. H. RufTncr, a native of Rockbridge, became 
an institution of Virginia in 1870. In this county as in some others, it won its 
way only in the face of long-continued opposition. The change from the old 
system was abrupt and was viewed in the light of a distasteful innovation. For 
a considerable time the free school was a vexed topic, friends and foes airing 
tlicir views in the county papers. But the complete disappearance of the pay- 
school reveals a tendency of the age. 

Out of 4.%9 whites and 1492 colored persons in 1870. !)ctwecn the ages of 
five and twenty-one. 700 were receiving elementary instruction in 35 schools. 
Two years later the annual expenditure liad reached only the small sum of $"J52.- 
07. Rut in 1875 the expenditure for schools had grown to $12,971. There were 
now 86 schools with 89 teachers. The average length of term was 5.4 months. 
The salary of the superintendent was $350. In 1894 there were 99 white schools 
with 109 teachers and an enrollment of 3182 pupils, and 24 colored schools with 
28 teachers and an enrollment of 1092. Nine years later, there were 3833 pupils 
in school out of a school population of 6647. However, the number of illit- 
erates among the children was 1875. 

An interesting relapse to a once popular and still useful institution was the 
spelling bee held at the county scat, March 6, 1911. The number who took part 
in it was about 600. 

The school year that closed in the summ"r of 191,S showed an expenditure 
of $82,1 14.73. All the ninety schoolhouscs were frame buildings, except three of 
brick, and the two log structures that hold over from the nldcn time. In the 
schools for the white were nine male and 143 female teachers. In the schools 
(or the colored people were two male and sixteen female teachers. The teachers 
wl-.o had been in service at least ten years were thirty-five. The length of the 
Khool year was nine months in the town of Lexington, eight months in Uie other 


high and graded schools, and seven months in the scliools of one or two rooms. 
The school libraries were forty-seven, and had approximately 7,000 volumes. In 
the rural districts the monthly salary varied from $35 to S50, according to the 
grade of certificate. With respect to the white population, th.e figures for school 
age, enrollment, and attendance were respectively, 5,779, 4,151, and 2,732. For 
the colored population, the corresponding figures were 1,305,656, and 462. The 
pupils in the high school department were 341, and all were white. It is note- 
worthy that in the matter of attendance, girl pupils are considerably in the ma- 
jority in each race, although with respect to the total population, Rockbridge has 
an excess of males. 

Since 1905 there has been a progressive consolidation in the rural schools, 
and it has now gone about as far as it is possible. Durmg this period, ten 
rural and several graded schools have been established. Schools of three or 
more teachers have taken the place of the former one-room schools, and sever- 
al school wagons are in use. There is now much emphasis on a thorough and 
well-graded course of study, and there is special efifort to secure well-trained 
teachers for the primary rooms as well as for the upper grades. 

In the fall of 1911 was held the first school fair in Rockbridge. It proved 
so interesting and successful that a fair has been held every year since, in the 
first or second week of November. In 1914, and again in 1916, at least 2000 
children marched in parade and were viewed by a much larger number of spec- 
tators. The prizes offered in the latter year amounted to nearly $1000. The 
exhibits were literary, domestic, and in the line of manual training. Exhibits by 
boys' corn clubs are shown in connection with the school fairs. In 1914, Logan 
C. Bowyer won the first prize by growing 208 bushels on two acres. 

The first county superintendent we find mentioned as such, was John M. 
Wilson in 1851. His bond was for $3000. John W. Barclay was a successor. 
Since the arrival of the public school system, the list of superintendants is as 
follows : 

John Lyie Campbell, 1870-1882; J. Lucian Hamilton, 1882-1886; J. Sidney 
Saville, 1886-1900; A. Nash Johnston, 1900-1904; G. W. Effinger, (acting), 
1904; Robert Catlett. 1904-1908; G. W. Effinger, 1908-1913; Earle K. Paxton, 



TiiE AuixANDa School — Mount Pleasant — Timbu Ridge— Mvi.Drjmv Hill — The Stosi 
LiBUTY Hall Academy — Removal op Lexington — CotxxcE Eka — 
The Unive«sity Pe«iod 

The first classical school west of the Blue Ridge was opened in 1749 by 
Robert Alexander. The log cabin, doubtless of a single room, is said to have 
stood on the farm immediately north of the churchyard of Old Providence. Al- 
exander was a graduate of Edinburgh University. Some of the copies of the 
Greek and Latin authors were in his own handwriting. He came to Augusta in 
1743 and remained here until his death in 1787. His school must have been 
fairly successful, for he continued to teach it four years. Wc know the names 
of only two of his students. These were James and Robert, sons of James Mc- 

Then, for 21 years, the school was continued by the Reverend John Brown, 
and seems to have been taught at his home. His students were probably few 
and did not make very exacting demands upon his time. 

The year 1774 registered a distinct advance. In October, the Hanover 
Presbytery ordered that a public school be established in Augusta. Six persons 
were authorized to take subscriptions, these to be payable not later than the fol- 
lowing Giristmas. William Graham was designated as the instructor, and he 
was to be under the supervision of John Brown. Next April, which was the 
month in which the battle of Lexington was fought, the I'resbytery declared 
that it would not limit the school to the students from Presbyterian families. 

Mount Pleasant Academy, the school thus established, was a log cabin of 
one room. It stood on a small belt of tableland a short mile north from 
Fafrfield Station and perhaps an eighth of a mile west of the railroad track. 
Between the upland and the railroad is a fine spring. The field in which the 
cabin stood is on land now owned by William G. Houston, and even at that 
time must have been partially cleared. The exact site, not apparent to a strang- 
er, commands an extensive mountain prospect, especially toward the east. For 
a school amid rural surroundings the situation is pleasing and interesting. "All 
the features of the place," remarks Henry Ruffner, "made it a fit habitation for 
the wood'and muse." A horn answered the purpose of a bell. The students 
carried their dinners, and their sports were mainly gymnastic. They studied 
within the schoolroom or under a tree. The spring was necessarily one of 
their resorts, and it was here tliat James Priestly, a student and afterward an 


instructor, used to "spout" the orations of Demosthenes in the original Greek. 

Graham had been graduated from Princeton College the year before com- 
ing to Mount Pleasant, and one of his classmates was Richard Henry Lee, the 
statesman and orator. In October, 1775, John Montgomery, who was after- 
ward minister at Deerfield, in Augusta county, became his assistant. 

The school seems to have prospered during the two years it remained at 
Mount Pleasant. In fact, the time was now propitious for an embryo college. 
This section of the Valley of Virginia had now been settled nearly forty years. 
Many of the families were in comfortable circumstances. Furthermore, the 
Valley had acquired such a degree of maturity as to create an appreciable de- 
mand for professional men. The distinctions conferred upon a man trained to 
some profession was understood by the youths of the \'alley and appreciated 
by them. 

In May 1776, the Presbytery accepted the gift of eighty acres of land, con- 
tributed in equal amounts by Samuel Houston and Alexander Stuart. The 
weight of authority is that the schoolhouse, twenty-four by twenty-eight feet on 
the ground and one and one-half stories high, stood near the stone church built 
at Timber Ridge in 1756. Persons living in 1844 remembered a log house answer- 
ing the description. At Philadelphia, Graham purchased books and philosophical 
apparatus to the value of 160 pounds ($533.33.) These articles were paid for 
with 128 pounds raised by subscription, and 32 pounds made up in some other 
manner. The library thus begun contained 290 volumes. The apparatus in- 
cluded a small reflecting telescope, a solar micsroscope, an airpump, an electrical 
machine, a barometer, a quadrant, a very small orrery, a pair of twelve-inch 
globes, and instruments for surveying. Graham went as far as New England in 
his canvass and obtained some help from that section. Doctor Archibald Alex- 
ander says that "several small, neat buildings were erected for the use of the 
students, and a good house on the New England model was reared for the rector. 
Students came in goodly numbers, mostly grown young men." The various 
buildings were completed late in 1777, the property, all told, costing about 
$2,000. Graham was a very good scholar in the classics and was fond of the 
natural sciences. He gave much attention to the science of government although 
censured by some people on the ground that he was thereby meddling in politics. 
He wanted to pattern his school after Princeton College. The cost of board and 
tuition was $35 a year. Tuition alone was 4 pounds ($13.33.) 

The name now given to the academy. Liberty Hall, was adopted May 13, 
1776. It is believed to have been suggested by Graham. The Revolution was 
now in progress. Rockbridge did not come within the theater of military opera- 
tions, and the school was not closed on their account. But in another way the 
etTect of the war was disastrous. The Continental currency began to depreciate 


and this process went on with accelerated speed. Prices rose correspondingly. 
At length the steward was no longer to give board at the original figure of 
$21.67 a year. The price was raised, but he resigned. Board was then given 
at the rate of $50 a year in the homes of Samuel McDowell. Alexander Stuart, 
David Gray, Samuel Lyle, and Jolin Lylc. The financial eniharrassmcnt com- 
pelled Graham to remove to the farm he had purchased at Mulberry Hill near 
Lexington. He left the school to be carried on by his assistant, whose name 
was Willson and who became a minister. Willson was an excellent classical 
scholar and could repeat hundreds of lines from Homer. But partly because 
of his ill-health and partly because of the had times, the number of students 
sank to five or six. The school was suspended in 1780 and was never resumed 
at Timber Ridge. 

As early as 1777 Archibald Alexander often saw companies of militia from 
the backwoods pass the academy wearing brown hunting shirts and deer-tail 
cockades. The company of Captain John Talc, that served in the Carolinas 
in 1780-81, was composed almost wholly of students from Liberty Hall. On 
the field of Guilford they fought with the proverbial bravery of students, and 
their gallantry drew words of praise from the British commander-in-chief. 

The next chapter in the history of the institution carries us to Mullberry Hill, 
a mile northwest of Leringtun. It was only by bringing the school to the vi- 
cinity of his home that Mr. Graham was able to reopen it in 1782. Incorporation 
was granted in October of this year. The petition asking for it states that 
"your petitioners believe that a seminary may here be conducted to very general 
advantage, — when (we) consider the extensive fertile country around the 
place, the fine air, and pure water with which it it blessed. — 120 acres (have 
been) procured in the neighborhood of Lexington for the Academy, also a valu- 
able library of well-chosen books, and a considerable mathematical and philo- 
sophical apparatus. They a&k incorporation, also exemption to the professors 
and master from militia service." Incorporation took the school out of the 
hands of the Presbytery, and it was thenceforward undenominational. Though 
Styled only an acadiniy, the institution was placed on a level with colleges in its 
ability to confer degrees. 

The first trustees were John Bowyer,* William Alexander,* Arthur Camp- 
bell, Alexander Campbell,* William Christian, John Hays,* Samuel Lyle,* James 
McCorkle. Samuel McDowell, William McKee,* William Graham,* George 
MofTclt.* John Montgomery, Andrew Moore,* Archibald Stuart, John Trimble,* 
Joseph Walker,* Caleb Wallace, John Wilson, * William Wilson. Those whose 
names appear with a star were present at the first meeting of the board, January 
30, 1783. Graham, Montgomery. Wallace and William Wilson were ministers 
of the Presbyterian Church. Bowyer and Moore held the title of general. 



The site on Mulberry Hill was where three farms came together, each own- 
er contributing a portion of the ground. The new schoolhouse stood on a high 
spot and in a grove of oaks. It was soon destroyed by fire, and incendiarism 
was suspected. Another building, sixteen by twenty-four feet, was put up in the 
same place in 1784. The Timber Ridge property does not seem to have realized 
more than one-third of its cost. Mr . Graham canvassed for help, and outside of 
his expenses he collected $2589.67 in paper money. But in specie it was worth 
only three cents on the dollar. A new subscription effort was productive of little 
result. 1 -' - • •; 

When the academy was opened under the charter, it was with William Gra- 
ham as rector and James Priestly as assistant. Priestly, who has already been 
mentioned, was a good teacher and an eager student. But because of the de- 
moralization bred in the camps, there was a great change for the worse in the 
character and behavior of the young men who now presented themselves. Pro- 
fanity, drunkenness, card playing, and malicious tricks were the order of the 
day among them. A better standard of behavior was slow to appear. 

It was in November, 1784, that the trustees petitioned the Assembly for help. 
They speak of their school as having "very flattering prospects," and that its 
greatest need was funds. But their appeal fell on deaf ears. 

The first commencement was held on September 13, 1785, and the degree 
of Bachelor of Arts was conferred on the following young men: Samuel Black- 
burn, Samuel Corrick, Moses Iloge, Samuel Houston, William McClung, Andrew 
McClure, John McCue, James Priestly, Adam Rankin, Archibald Roane, Terah 
Templin, and William Willson. Corrick, Iloge, McClure, McCue, Templin, and 
Willson became Presbyterian ministers. Hoge at length became president of 
Hampden-Sidney College, and Corrick of Blount College in Tennessee. Gener- 
al Blackburn settled as a lawyer in Bath county. Pie was an eloquent orator 
and a master of ridicule and sarcasm. Roane was governor of Tennessee in 
1801-3. McClung was a circuit judge in Kentucky, and Priestly became presi- 
dent of Cumberland College. 

Lexington wished the academy moved within its boundaries. The trustees 
declined at this time, thinking the students were unruly enough where they were 
without placing them in a less favorable environment. The town was much in- 
fested with quarrelsome drunkards, by whom the few earnestly religious citi- 
zens were feared and hated. 

In 1793, a stone building was erected, William Cravens of Rockingham be- 
ing the contractor. It was thirty by thirty-eight feet in the clear, three stories 
high, and contained twelve rooms, each nearly fifteen feet square. The cost was 
about $2,000. The academy was now given a more respectable standing, and the 
moral tone began to improve. The average attendance was about twenty-live. 


For seven pounds ($23.33) a year, llic steward furnished meals, made beds, and 
cleaned the rooms twice a week. At this time, wheat was fifty-eight cents a 
busliel, rye fifty, and corn forty-two. Beef was two and one-half cents a pound, 
and pork three and three-fourth cents. Breakfast consisted of bread and butler 
with tea, coffee, or chocolate; dinner, of bread, vegetables, and either beef or 
pork ; supper, of bread, butter, and milk. Room rent in the .'tcadcmy building was 
fifty cents a session for each student, unless there were five or more students in 
tiic same room. In this case the charge was $2 for all. 

Tuition was 5 pounds. Aside from the ancient languages, the subjects 
taught were arithmetic, algebra, geography, logic, criticism and rhetoric, trigo- 
nometry, navigation, surveying, and, probably, natural philosophy. 

In 17% the library and apparatus were valued at 2000 pounds. But the 
academy was in much financial embarrassment. It was pressed by its creditors, 
and the trustees paid some of the debts out of their own pockets. Tiie legislature 
was again appealed to but in vain. The trustees remonstrated against being di- 
vested of their oflice. The price of board was advanced fifty per cent. 

Relief came at a most opportune time. In 1784 the legislature of \'irginia 
incorporated two companies, one to improve the navigation of the James and 
the other that of the I'otomac. It authorized the treasurer of the state to sub- 
scribe for 100 shares in the James River Company and fifty in the Potomac Com- 
pany, these 150 shares to stand in the name of General George Washington, and 
to be a gift for his personal benefit. Washington replied that inasmuch as he 
had declined to acccjjt any pay during the Revolution, he could not consistently 
accept the shares for himself, but would apply them to some public benefit after 
they had become productive. Andrew Moore and Francis Preston called the 
general's attention to Liberty Hall Academy, the name of which may have in- 
fluenced his decision. Mr. Graham also called a meeting of the trustees, and 
prepared an address to Washington, who in September, 1796, deeded the James 
River siiare to Liberty Mall, the Potomac shares going to Leesburg Academy. 
The transallcghany region was already showing that it would be a great factor in 
American development, and Washington understood it better, probably, than any 
other statesman east of the Blue Ridge. He fully appreciated the services which 
the men west of that mountain had rendered the cause of American independence. 
He was, furthermore, a great friend to education, and he knew that the strug- 
gling academy at Lexington was tlic only higher institution of learning within 
tiic mountain country. In giving Liberty Hall this help, Washington d sired 
that it should be a school of the purest patriotism. He could not but have known 
that the adoption of the Federal Constitution by Virginia was decided by the 
votes of the delegates who were at the same time trustees of Liberty Hall. 

The par value of the stock donated to Liberty Hall was $20,000. The first 
dividend— of three per cent — was paid in 1802. 



On Christmas eve, 1802, tliere was another disaster at the hands of the fire 
fiend. The academy took fire on the roof and burned to the ground, the side 
walls and a portion of the ends remaining in place. The building just been 
insured and the sum of $2,563 was thus realized. The movable property, such as 
bool<s, apparatus, and bedding, was saved, but the seal of the academy was not dis- 
covered until 1893. The building experts of Lexington gave an unfavorable re- 
port as to a reconstruction on the old site. In the opinion of Henry RuiTner, 
their motives were not disinterested. Yet even if they were not biased, it would 
look as if their judgment was at fault. The walls continue to stand even a'ter 
the lapse of 116 years. They form a picturesque ruin, visible from some dis- 
tance, and are witness to the excellence of the masonry. 

Lexington, now a town of 100 families, made another effort to secure 
the school. A reluctant consent was given. Andrew Alexander look the old 
site in exchange for his house and its lot of two acres in the town. He sold 28 
acres additional for $180, the trustees paying about $1700 for the exchange. 
Less than $3,000 was available for new buildings. It was decided to erect two 
wipgs, twenty by seventy-five feet on the ground and two stories high, containing 
sixteen rooms in all. These were built hastily and of poor materials, and within 
twenty years had become insecure. Alexander's house became the rector's home. 
It was a two-storied wooden structure and was where the president's house now 
stands. One of the two academic buildings was on the site of the present New- 
comb Hall, while the other was at the east end of the University group. The 
steward's house, a very plain affair thirty by forty-two feet, stood at the front en- 
trance to the grounds. All of these were constructed of poorly burned bricks 
made on the academy lot. But temporary quarters were needed for about a year, 
and a building for this purpose was rented on Jefferson street. 

In a material point of view, the change was for the better. The attendance 
rose, and in 1805 there were seventy students. A four-year course of study, nearly 
like that of Princeton, was adopted, and it remained in force until 1821. How- 
ever, a preparatory school was maintained. In 1808, the steward system broke 
down, and was not again resorted to except for a brief period beginning in 1821. 
With this exception, the students took their meals among private families. W. 
H. Ruffner considered that the change was beneficial, remarking that in a mixed 
society students strike for the best families. But for a long while the removal 
to Lexington was unfavorable to good conduct. The students often took part in 
the numerous street fights, and the townsmen came to their side when the faculty 
tried to enforce discipline. But Lexington has always had a circle of good so- 
ciety, and in time its atmosphere very greatly improved. 

In 1798 there was a change of name to Washington Academy. In the same 
year Mr. Graham resigned, having been associated with the academy twenty-four 


years. He was succeeded by George A. Baxter, who came from New London 
Academy to fill tlic cliair of mathematics. Daniel Blain also joined the faculty 
and some students came from a distance. The salary of Doctor Baxter was about 
$900, that of Blain about $700. 

In 1812 Washington Academy became Washington College, and this con- 
tinued to be its name almost sixty years. In 1SI8, wiiile a state university was 
taking form, the trustees of the college tried to have it adopted as the University 
of \'irginia. Its claims were presented by Colonel James McDowell. 

A memorial sent to the Assembly in 1821 states that in addition to the 
James River stock the college lias seventeen shares in the Bank of Virginia, these 
having been purchased out of savings from tlic endowment. The bank stock 
was yielding three per cent, a year, the James River stock, $1200 to $1800. 
The tuition was $30 a year, of which one-third went to the president, and two- 
thirds to the two professors and the tutor of the grammer school. During the 
three years past, the average attendance had been forty-four. The students were 
generally between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one. About thirty were taking 
the college course. 

In 1821 the rector became the president. The other professors were Dan- 
iel Blain and Edward Graham. Between 1803 and 1821 there were three 
schools of study: one of mental philosophy, chemistry, and astronomy; and 
one of L^tin, Greek, French, English, Hebrew, and giojjraphy. The teaching 
was wholly from text-books. There was at this time a popular prejudice 
against tlic dead languages. During the college year 1816-17, $600 was spent 
for books and the library was put under strict regulations. Until 1820 the high- 
water mark in the income from the James River stock was $3,200. In 1832 
and later, there was a guaranteed income of $3000. 

Other help came to the college. John Robinson's estate, which ultimately 
yielded $46,000, came productive in 1829. In 1807 the Society of the Cincin- 
nati turned over its funds to Washington College on condition that fortification 
and gunnery be taught. The money, however was not deposited with the state 
treasurer until 1824. That oflicer failed and more than ore -half of the fund 
was lost. Not until 1848 did the college receive the $25,000 due it. The do- 
nations previous to the war of 1861 aggregated about $100,(00. But while this 
sum looks very small when compared with the benefactions in recent years, the 
importance of the early help, particularly the canal stock, was inestimable. The 
W.ishington fund did not become steadily productive until 1811, and during 
the years when there was a deficiency of income, the rector allowed the shrinkage 
to fall upon himself. 

The Center Building cost $9,000 and created a debt of $1,000. At the laying 
of the cornerstone, which toook place in 1824, John Robinson sent up from his 


distillery at Hart's Bottom a barrel containing forty gallons of his best rye 
whiskey. This reservoir with all its intoxicating potentialities was set on the 
campus. The day of temperance reform had begun to arrive, and although 
the college authorities viewed the present with disfavor, Robinson was too good 
a friend of the institution to be treated with discourtesy. .Some of the trustees 
and professors did not partake at all, and others did so only in a nominal way. 
But among the spectators were a large contingent of the would-be "Tight-Bri- 
gade." The agonies of thirst impelled them to an onset that was irresistible. 
With cups, dippers, gourds, and every other obtainable thing of the sort, they 
proceeded to drain the barrel, but before they could complete the process it was 
intentionally upset. The wreckage around the spot, human and inanimate, was 
suggestive of a battlefield. Robinson, who was a man of a past age with respect 
to his ideas of conviviality, was much chagrined. He had intended his present 
for the elite and not for the mob. But he was making a most generous estimate 
for the capacity of the elite. 

In 1829 there were breaches in the fence around the college grounds caused 
by hauling wood, brick, and building materials. Domestic animals were free to 
come in and were in partial possession of the buildings, sometimes climbing to 
the second floor. These four-footed "students" were now expelled and the gaps 

In 1845, according to Howe, the yearly expense to the student did not nec- 
essarily exceed $150. His board was about $8 a month and his washing and 
sundries about $3. The cost of matriculation, tuition, room rent, and sundry 
deposits was $42. But poor students were remitted their tuition and could get 
along on $80 to $100 a year. In 1855, eight students took the degree of Bachelor 
of Arts. 

In 1840 the late Joseph A. Waddell was a student at Washington College. 
His student life, as he describes it. was not overburdened with attractiveness. 
The young men had to lodge in the college building unless there was good rea- 
son for the permission to sleep elsewhere. The college inclosure was primitive 
and rude, and the buildings were as primitive and unadorned as possible. There 
were four instructors. At bedtime one of them would call at every door, to see 
if all the students were in and to mark the absentees. But the professors did 
not try to get acquainted with the students and had little to do with them ex- 
cept at times of recitation. The hour of prayers at the chapel was announced 
with a tin horn by "Professor" John Henry, the negro janitor. The chapel was 
as cheerless as a barn and as cold in winter as an ice-house. When Professor 
Calhoun offered prayer, he put both his hands into his pockets to keep them from 
getting numb. The chapel hour was before breakfast, and in winter the only light 
was a tallow candle. Roll-call was next in order. There were Bible classes on the 


afternoon of Sunday; an English class by Professor Armstrong, a Greek class 
by I'rofcssor UaLiiey. liut in the latter class llierc was no word of exposition 
or exhortation ; all that each member of the class had to do was tu read one or 
more verses from a chapter in the Greek Testament. The students generally 
attended the I'rcsbytrian cliurch bcause the Ann Smith girU went there. Some 
of the young men d.d not go to church at all, and this did not seem to make any 
difference to anyone. 

President liaxter was followed by Lewis Marshall, a brother to John Mar- 
shall, for many years Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ol the United States. 
He in turn was followed, though only for a year, by Henry N'cthake. In 1836, 
the latter was succcccdcd as president by lienry Ruffner, \\ho was graduated 
from this college in 1817, and had been a professor since 1819. Of him the 
following anecdote is related. On entering his class-room one morning, he found 
his armchair in possession of a calf, which saluted him with a "ba-a," perhaps 
from a willingness to be relieved frcm managing a recitation. "Young men," 
said the doctor, "I sec you have an instructor fully competent to teach you, so 
I'll bid you good morning." The calf was soon nibbling grass on the campus 
and an apoh gy was sent to the victorious president. 

The Graham Society — later the Graham-Lee — was founded in 1S09 by nine 
students, all of whom were men of force. In its early years i( discussed and con- 
denuud secession and slavery. In 1840 its library contained 2,000 volumes. Some 
years after the Graham arose, there came the Washington, and there was much 
rivalry between the two societies. 

George Junkin came to the head of affairs in 1848. and resigned in the 
spring of 1861, because of his uncompromising stand against secession. Dur- 
ing the four years of the civil war, the doors of the college were closed, the stu- 
dents being generally with the Confederate army. There were twelve in the 
senior class of 1861. All were given degrees, whether present at Commencement 
or in the army. Two of the graduates, Joel W. Arnold and Alexander S. Pax- 
ton, were of Rockbridge county. The pillaging that took place during the oc- 
cupatirfn of Lexington by the army of General Hunter is elsewhere spoken of. 
The end of this suspension of activities found the campus a commons and the 
buildings out of repair. The resources were hardly enough to pay the four pro- 
fessors who were needed when General Robert E. Lee took charge in the fall of 
1865. liul at the time of his installation, which was of th-; simplest character, 
the "five brick buildings, all in a row," were freshly painted inside and out. 
About 100 students were present at the reopening, and a year later there were 
320. There was no graduating class until 1866, because a senior class could not 
be gathered together. 

With the incumbency of the ex-commander-in<hief of the Confederat ar- 


mies begins the modern period in the history of this institution. For want of 
space we must pass over it briefly. It has been our aim to dwell on the earlier 
history of the school, not alone because of its great interest, but because much 
of the material for this history is not readily accessible. 

Very soon after the death of General Robert E. Lee, and in memory of him, 
Washington College became the Washington and Lee University. General G. W. 
C. Lee was at the head of the institution until 1897, and was succeeded by Wil- 
liam L. Wilson, whose short incumbency was marked by the inauguration of the 
School of Applied Science. Doctor Wilson died in office, and Harry St. George 
Tucker acted as president for the remainder of the college year. The admin- 
istration of George H. Denny, which closed in 1912, gave place to that of the 
present incumbent, Henry Louis Smith, who is of Rockbridge parentage, though 
a native of North Carolina. 

The grounds belonging to the university now cover ninety acres. Most of 
the trees that shade the campus are not of primeval growth, but have been set 
out. General Robert E. Lee was very instrumental in thus beautifying the in- 
closure. The buildings number forty-three, and include the largest and best 
equipped gjmnasium in the South. The recent structures vastly eclipse the plain, 
inexpensive ones of the ante-war period. The library houses about 50,000 
volumes. The endowment has risen to several millions of dollars, and has been 
contributed chiefly by Robert P. Doremus, George Peabody. W. W. Corcoran, 
Thomas A. Scott, Andrew Carnegie, and Cyrus H. McCormick. 

The schools of instruction are four; the Academic, and those of Commerce, 
Law and Equity, and .Applied Science. The School of Law and Equity grew 
out of the school of law founded in Lexington in 1849 by John W. Brokcn- 
brough. The school year of thirty-seven weeks is divided into three terms. Dur- 
ing the session of 1917-18, there were thirty-six members of the faculty, and there 
were also several student instructors. There were 523 students, Virginia con- 
tributing 194. The others came from thirty-two states of the Union, and 
Hawaii, Porto Rico, China, Japan, and Persia were also represented. During 
the same session the cost of room and board varied from $24 to $37 a month. 
The tuition and fees, other than those relating to labaratory work, amount to 
$105 a year, except in the Law School, where the total is $120. 

In review, it may be mentioned that Washington and Lee University is 
neither a state nor church institution, but is controlled by a self-perpetuating 
board. The influences are nevertheless Christian, and the student branch of 
the Young Men's Christian Association was developed during the presidency 
of General R. E. Lee. At the close of his administration, 105 students were 
members of some church. An honor system is in force and this is strengthened 
by the social relations subsisting between the faculty and the student body. 


The individual student is not subjected to espionage nor to vexatious restrict- 
ions. It therefore goes without saying that the annoyances that hindered the 
working of the school for several dicacks after the Revolution have passed in;o 
the limbo of local history. 

The little scIkkjI founded by Robert Alexander has grown, stej) i>y step, 
into a university of broad scope and of national influence. 



The Lexingtox Arsenal — How the Institute Arose — The Opening — Antebellum History 

— War Record of the Institute — Later History — 

General Smith — Other Instructors 

A state arsenal was established at Lexington in 1816, where 30,000 stand 
of small arms were kept for the militia of the southwest counties. The arsenal 
itself was a substantial brick building four stories high, "from which every 
architectural beauty was scrupulously excluded." The roof was surfaced with 
zinc. In the basement was a mess-hall, lighted when necessary with whale oil 
lamps. In front were the commandant's house and the barracks, the latter a 
brick building containing nine rooms. The two structures formed one side 
of a quadrangle, a brick wall fourteen feet high forming the other three 
sides. The barrack windows were grated and the place was suggestive of a 
prison. The grounds were not so extensive as those of the school that suc- 
ceeded the arsenal. On the slope of the hill were a few cedars and some deep 
gullies. A cornfield surrounded by a worm fence occupied a portion of the 
present parade ground. The only tree on the plateau was a hickory known as 
the "guard tree." 

The first commandant was Captain James Paxton, a native of the county 
and a thorough soldier who had served with much credit in the war of 1812. 
The second commandant was Captain D. E. Moore. 

To look after the burnished muskets stored on the upper and well scoured 
floors of the arsenal, there was a guard of twenty-eight enlisted men, who were 
paid $9 each a month, or $3,024 in all. They were under strict discipline. Reveille 
at daybreak and the drum at nine or ten o'clock at night were a part of the estab- 
lished order of things. Drill and guard duty constituted the legitimate duty of 
the men. With a few exceptions, they were not of much character, and had ac- 
cepted this mode of life as being on the "line of least resistance." They were 
much addicted to liquor and to stealing ripe melons and fruit. One of the letters 
by "Civis" in 1835 says that, "as a body they are respected by none, considered 
obnoxious by some, and disliked by all." Eight years earlier, one of the guards 
was killed by a companion soldier. 

Andrew Alexander is said to have been the first citizen to suggest turning 
the arsenal into some kind of school, and thus getting rid of a nuisance. The 
idea was at length taken up by the Franklin Society, and in December, 1832, it 
was twice debated in its halls. The secoind evening there was a unanimous vote 
in favor of the proposition. So great was the interest now aroused, tliat before 
the members had left the hall steps were taken to set the ball to rolling. 

200 A nisTORv or rockbridce county, vircinma 

In August and September, 1835. three letters signed "Livis" appeared in the 
Gacftle. These articles explained what the proposed school ought to be in the 
judgment of the writer. Their author was Colonel J. T. L. Preston, but he never 
clainied to have originated the views he advanced. 

The real originator appears to have been Claude Crozet. a native of France 
who was educated in the Polytechnic School of Paris. He became a captain of 
artillery in the army of Napoleon, won the Cross of the Legion of Honor, and 
soon after the downfall of the empire he came to America. Shortly after his 
arrival he was appointed to the chair of engineering at West Point. This posi- 
tion he filled seven years, and he was the first man to teach the highest branches 
of mathematics in that institution. Excepting the five years he was prcsid:'nt 
of JefTcrson College in Louisiana, Crozet spent the rest of his long life in Vir- 
ginia. As state engineer he laid out a number of important turnpikes. One of 
his achievements is the Blue Ridge tunnel on the line of the Chesapeake and 
Ohio railroad. 

The measure was put before the Assembly, but as there was considerable 
opposition, success was not speedy. The Act first passed made the proposed 
school "a part and branch of Washington College." This was repealed in favor 
of the one passed March 29, 1839. This made a yearly appropriation of $6,000, 
which was the same as the cost of maintaining the arsenal. It created a Hoard of 
Visitors, appointed by the Governor. From twenty to forty cadets, between the 
ages of sixteen and twenty-five, were to be admitted yearly, and these were to 
constitute the publice guard of the arsenal. The officers and the cadets were to be 
held responsib'e for the arms. Any non-commissioned officer of the mi'itia of 
the state was permitted to have free tuition for not more than ten months, but 
was not to be recognized as a regular student. 

The members of the first Doard of Visitors were Cononcl Claude Crozet. 
General P. C. Johnston, General Thomas Botts, General C. P. Dnrman. Captain 
John F. Wiley, Governor James McDowell, Doctor Alfred Leybuni, and Hugh 
Barclay. It will be observed that nearly all these men carried military titles. 
Colonel Crozet was chairman. The board was a very able one, and the action it 
took was in line with these words of our first president: "However pacific the 
general policy of a nation may be, it ought never to be without an adequate 
stock of military knowledtje for emergencies." The school these men were to 
establish was to have military features, and yet it could not strictly be another 
West Point. The great function of the United States Military Academy is to 
provide thoroughly trained army officers. Each graduate becomes at once a 
lieucnant, and so long as he docs not resign from the military establishment of 
the nation, he enjoys a salary for life. Virginia could not thus provide for the 
graduates of her military school. The chief purpose of the new school was to 


impart a superior scientific training and supply well-equipped teachers. A paral- 
lel purpose was the better defense of the state in case of war. "Practical utility, 
thorough discipline, and formative training" were to pervade every department, 
and the military feature, with its thoroughness in instruction as well as discipline, 
was to be a most useful help in securing these ends. "Energy, efficiency, and 
reliability," remarks General Smith, "have been characteristics of its graduates in 
every pursuit of life." 

Thus arose the second military school in the United .States, West Point 
being the hrf.t. Without additional current expense, a most useful scliool took 
the place of the semi-id!ers who had been a pest to the community. 

Francis H. Smith, a recent graduate of West Point and now professor of 
mathematics in Hampden-Sidney College, was unanimously chosen as the first 
superintendent The man thus selected was ambitious. The new school was 
in the nature of an experiment, and it did not look clear that an acceptance was a 
promotion in the educational field. After a little hesitation he accepted, and he 
remained at the head of the institution the very long period of 50 years. His 
salary at the start was $1,500. The rank of colonel was given to him, and that of 
major to a full professor. The only other instructor at the start was John T. L. 
Preston, who took the chair of modern languages. 

In .September, 1839, twenty state cadets and thirteen pay cadets were ap- 
pointed, and thirty-one of these formed the corps of 1839-40. John S. L. Logan 
was the only member from this county. The opening of the Institute, which 
took place November 11 of the same year, was verp unpromising. The barracks 
had been raised one story to provide more space, but the work was not yet finish- 
ed. The roof was not in place and no fuel had been laid in. There were no uni- 
forms. There was no banner and the roll was not called. The youths were 
strongly minded to desert and go home, but the calmer second thought prevailed. 

The annuity was gradually increased until in 1860 the annual appropriation 
was $20,000. During the first twelve years three instructors were added to the 
faculty. The first was Thomas H. Williamson, who taught drawing and tactics. 
The second was Lieutenant William Gilham, professor of the physical sciences. 
The third was Thomas J. Jackson, whose chair was that of natural and experi- 
mental philosophy. A library was begun by the state library sending the second 
copy in those instances where it possessed two copies of the same work. There 
was next an appropriation of $500 a year for five years, and the valuable scien- 
tific library of Colonel Crozet was thus purchased. 

In the first graduating class were sixteen cadets. The Institute commence- 
ment used to come on July 4, which was a great day in Lexington. A feature of 
the exercises, which were held at the Presbyterian church, was the reading of 
the Declaration of Independence by a graduate. By an Act of 1842, each grad- 


uatc was required to teach two years, in order to return to the state some direct 
benefit for his free tuition. The first teachers went out in 1843. Teaching was 
tlicn thought unworthy of a young \'irginian, and much of the educational work of 
the state had been done by Xortherners or by Europeans. But this feeling was 
gradually overcome, and in 1860 the college students in Virginia numbered 
2500. the ratio to the white population being larger than in any other state. 

The first student organization was the Society of Cadets, whicli arose in 
1840. It was followed in 1849 by the Dialectic Society. 

In 1854 occurred the killing of Blackburn by Christian. There was ill-feel- 
ing between these two cadets, and Blackburn was fatally stabbed near the Pres- 
byterian church. Christian was acquitted at Lynchburg on the ground of self- 

During the first seven years of the Institute, there was an arrangement with 
Washington College, whereby the cadets received instruction in chemistry at the 
college, while a body of college students, known as the Cincinnati Gass, drilled 
with the cadets. This system did not work well and was terminated in 1846. The 
officers of the Institute could not exercise any direct control over the Cincinnati 
Gass, and as the uniform of the latter was nearly like that of the cadets, some 
confusion resulted. 

Beginning about 1844, there was for several years, a lack of harmony be- 
tween the Institute on the one hand and Washington College and the town of 
I-Txington with its Presbyterian church on the other hand. The town showed an 
unfriendly spirit in certain ways, as when the superintendent was presented by 
a grand jury for selling goods without a license. lie had been compelled to pro- 
vide uniforms for the cadets owing to the inferior goods and extortionate prices 
of the town merchants. Neither the Institute nor the College was denomina- 
tional, although the former was in some degree under Episcopal supervision, as 
was the College under Presbyterian influence. A charge of sectarianism was 
brought against the management of the Institute. As for the college itself, it 
chose to look upon its neighbor as a rival institution intruding into a field which 
it should have to itself. These jealousies were outgrown. They reflected a nar- 
rowness of outlook which was not uncommon in America seven decades ago. 
Yet the removal of the Institute to some other town was seriously considered 
and the matter was significantly mentioned in the .Act carrying an appropria- 
tion of $46,000 for new buildings The people of Lexington and the College au- 
thorities also, now took alarm and exerted their influence in f.nor of .•» retention 
of the military school.' 

Tlie appropriation just named was in response to an appeal by the Board 
of Visitors and a long auxiliary petition by the cadets. It was pointed out 
that when the Institute be.gan there were only four rooms in which to lodge 


thirty-one cadets. In 1849 four or five cadets had to study and sleep in a room 
only sixteen feet square. Because of this congestion, not more than half the stu- 
dents that applied could be admitted. Day and night fifty wood fires were burn- 
ing, a constant danger to the state property, the value of which was estimated 
at $350,000. The cornerstone of the new building was laid July 4, 1850. By 
1860 the appropriations for building purposes aggregated $151,000. 

In 1858 the superintendent visited Europe on a leave of absence. After his 
return he made important recommendations bearing on the further growth of 
the Institute. One of these was the founding of a School of Scientific Agricul- 

In 1850 the cadet corps was present at the laying of the cornerstone of the 
Washington Monument at the national capitol, and on the return by way of 
Richmond it was the bodyguard of President Taylor. The fine appearance and 
soldierly bearing of the cadets won for them much praise, and one result of the 
excursion was a battery of six pounders given by order of the president. In 
1858, the superintendent had charge of the execution of John Brown at Har- 
pers Ferry, and nearly 100 of the cadets were present as a portion of the in- 
fantry and artillery force. 

The war with Mexico came only six years after the opening of the In- 
stitute, and yet twenty-five of the ex-students took part in that conflict, generally 
as commissioned officers. 

We now come to the important part played by the Virginia Military Insti- 
tute in the war of 1861. During the winter that preceded the actual clash of 
arms, there was intense restlessness and some turbulence among the cadets. 
Nearly all of them were ardent partisans of the Confederate side of the con- 
troversy. As soon as Virginia seceded, the superintendent was summoned to 
Richmond to serve on the Council of Three, and subsequently to take part in or- 
ganizing a system of defense for the lower Chesapeake. April 21 Major Jackson 
was ordered to take to Richmond as many of the cadets as were available as 
drillmasters. There were left behind forty-eight of the younger and less ex- 
perienced of the corps, and these were consolidated with the Rockbridge Greys. 
At Camp Lee, near Richmond, the other 200 cadets did excellent service in drill- 
ing the green volunteers. The more than 20,000 Confederates who were present- 
ly to fight under Johnston and Beauregard on Bull Run and the lower Shenan- 
doah were so rapidly and so effectively put into a good degree of discipline, that 
in the first years of the war they were superior in this respect to the troops op- 
posed to them. President Lincoln found occasion to remark that the Federal 
armies were not fighting raw militia, but soldiers drilled by highly trained of- 

Most of the cadets who went to Richmond were soon commissioned as of- 
ficers, and as we have seen, those who were left behind went into the service with 


a local organization. The Institute did not reopen until January 1. 1862. and a 
month later 269 students were present. With several interruptions due to mili- 
tary exigencies, work was carried on at Lexington until the close of June. 1864. 
The military feature was now more prominent than ever, since the present func- 
tion of the school was chiefly to furnish additional drillmasters to the Southern 
aniiies. Recitation work was carried on at a disadvantage, since the cadets were 
restless and eager to get to the front. After the burning of the Institute by Gen- 
eral Hunter, the cadets were for a brief while quartered in the buildings of 
Washington College. They were then furloughcd. and they reassembled at 
Richmond, where they were placed in the vacant Almshouse. A semblance of 
classroc ni work was there carried on nearly four months, or until the evacua- 
tion of Richmond, .April 3, 1865. 

In 1860 there were 433 living graduates of the Virginia Military Institute, 
to say nothing of the larger number of eleves, or students who did not complete 
the course of study. Among the graduates were nine governors, two United 
Slates senatcirs, twelve college presidents, more than twenty congressmen, and 
more than forty judges. Of graduates and eleves, 810 were commissioned of- 
ficers in the Confederate army as against 282 frcm West Point, although, as a 
matter of course, the West Pointer was the more likely to attain high rank. 
However, the Institute was represented in the Confederacy by three major gen- 
erals, eighteen brig.ndier-generals. and 263 regimental ofliccrs. Of the fifteen reg- 
iments that took part in Pickett's famous charge at Gettysburg, thirteen were 
commanded by Institute men. The importance to the Confederate government 
of the "West Point of the South" thus becomes strikingly apparent. Out of the 
810, there died in military service 249, and a larger number were woimdcd. In 
the Federal army were fifteen officers who had been trained in the Institute. 

It is next in order to tell something of the military services of the student 
corps itself. The first was in May, 1862, when General Milroy was threatening 
Staunton from the west, and was likely to be joined in a few days by a larger 
force under General Fremont. General Jackson, who was watching from the 
south end of Peaked Mountain another I'ederal army tmdcr General Ranks, 
summoned to his aid the force under General Ewell on the eastern side of the 
Blue Ridge. Leaving Ewcll to confront Banks, Jackson made a roundalmut and 
stealthy movement upcn Milroy. .Xt his recjuest, the cadets were sent to join 
his army at Staunton. They left the Institute at noon. May 1. 1862, bivouacked 
that night at Fairfield, and reached Staunton on the third day of the march. 
Under Major Shipp 'hey marched to the battlefield of McDowell, but did not 
take part in the engagement. Yet they marched in the pursuit to McCoy's mill, 
near Franklin, and j^tudies were not resumed until May 20. In August of the 
(ollowing year, Lieutenant Wise with fifty cadets scoured the mountains of 


Rockbridge to arrest deserters. Two days were thus spent but without any suc- 
cess whatever. A few days later the cadets turned out to assist in repelhng a 
force of Federal cavalry under General Averill. Two companies carrying four 
guns and rations for seven days marched as far as Goshen, but as Averill did 
not move eastward from Covington, the cadets were absent little more than for- 
ty-eight hours. A more serious task came the following November, when 
Averill made another raid on nearly the same course. But this time Major 
Sliipp marched by way of Longdale to the vicinity of Covington, where General 
Imboden proposed to make a stand. Averill moved toward Huntersville, and 
thinking only a feint was intended, Imboden proceeded to Goshen. But the 
movement was not a feint, and as before, the cadets returned without a share 
in any action and after an absence of five days. Only one month later, Averill 
set out on still another raid and penetrated as far as Salem, where he did 
great damage to the railroad. Well-planned efforts were made to cut off his 
retreat, but Averill escaped the toils that were closing around him. The cadets, 
180 strong and with their rifled cannon, marched again under Shipp, but found 
Bratton's Run unfordable and went into camp on its bank. Next day they manag- 
ed to get across and bivouacked at Colk Sulphur Spring, where they received 
orders to return, and their next camp was at Wilson Spring. Returning to Lex- 
ington after an absence of four days, they expected to have to march to Buchanan, 
but were ordered to join Colonel Jackson, and after a further absence of two days 
they were again at their old barracks. This six days of service was very severe, 
a long, continued cold rain being followed by freezing weather, and the roads 
were icy as well as rough. 

The only battle in which the cadets were actually engaged was that of New 
Market, May 15, 1864. At that point, General Breckenridge with 4,500 men at- 
tacked the 6,000 Federals under General Sigel. The engagement was very severe 
and at times the result was in doubt. At a critical moment the 221 cadets made a 
brilliant charge that contributed very materially to Sigel's defeat. The casualties 
were 57, inc'uding nine who were either killed or mortally wounded. The high- 
ly creditable behavior of the cadets in this action has been written up by several 
pens and rather voluminously. It is therefore quite unnecessary to give a de- 
tailed account of the battle in this chapter. But it is quite erroneous to assume 
that the cadets were mere boys and without any practical experience in cam- 
paigning. On the contrary they were of quite mature age, were thoroughly 
drilled, and were able to march as well as seasoned troops. The brief tours we 
have already mentioned had given them no little amount of experience. In short, 
the morale of the corps could hardly have been surpassed. One week after their 
battle the cadets reached Staunton almost barefoot, and were at once ordered to 
Richmond, but were again at Lexington, June 9. 


The raid by General Hunter is related in Chapter XIII. as is also the share 
of the cadets in the military operations connected therewith. The final and very 
brief scr\'icc of the cadets in the war of 1861 was when they were sent to the 
front from Richmond, to help in repelling Sheridan. March 11, 1865. followed 
by their trench duly in front of that city on the day of the evacuation. In the 
afternoon of the same day they were marched into Richmond and disbanded. 

The fall of 1865 seemed a very unpromising time to reopen the Institute, 
particularly in view of the fact that its equipment was gone, and that nothing re- 
mained of its buildings but a mass of ruins. Neither was there any money in 
hand with which to rebuild. But failure was a word the superintendent would 
not accept. In such temporary quarters as could be made available, the school 
was reopened October 1, 1865, with a full faculty and about twenty cadets. The 
number of the latter rose during the year to fifty-five. But the professors did not 
receive more than $400 apiece, by way of salary, whereas the cost of board to 
the cadets was $25 a month. A year later there were lecture rooms and mess 
hall, and 147 cadets. In 1869 the burned buildings were restored. All this was 
not accomplished without acute financial embarrassment. 

At the time of the reopening in 1865. 2,000 students had matriculated and 
510 of these had been graduated. Of the 2.000. the state cadets numbered 527. 
and 177 of the latter were graduated. The graduates who had taught numbered 
146. Before the war the average expense to the pay cadet was $375 a year. 

General Smith resigned as Superintendent in 1889, and was succeeded by 
General Scott Shipp. The third and present incumbent is General Edward \V. 
Nichols, whose administration began in 1907. 



A Girl's School for Lexington — Ann ^mith — FiNANaAL Embarrassment — Later 
History — Other Private Schools 

The opening years of the nineteenth century did not find the people of 
Rockbridge Hmiting their interest in higher education to the collegiate training 
(if young men. In the spring of 1807 they were taking practical steps to provide 
secondary instruction for the other sex. 

The subscribers to the school of this character held their first formal meet- 
ing at the courthouse, April 20, Colonel James McDowell acting as chairman and 
John Leyburn as clerk. The other men present were Dr. Samuel L. Campbell, 
James Caruthers, John Caruthers, William Caruthers, Cornelius Dorman, James 
Gold, Edward Graham, Reuben Grigsby, John Irvine, Henry McClung, Joseph 
Paxton, John Robinson, Alexander Shields, John Sloan, and William Willson. 
Dr. Campbell was proxy for William Lyie. 

Almost the first act of the meeting was to select a committee to choose 
a suitable site, and to submit a plan for the building, together with an estimate 
on the probable cost of both land and schoolhouse. The members of this com- 
mittee were John Leyburn, Andrew Reid, Edward Graham, Alexander Shields, 
James Caruthers, and Dr. Campbell. Other duties devolving on this committee 
were to see whether a convenient house could be used as temporary quarters, to 
formulate the rules for the government of the school, and to petition the next 
Ccneral Assembly for an act of incorporation. The report was read at a meet- 
ing held August 1, other subscribers present being Daniel Blain, Thomas L. 
Preston, and Arthur Walkup. Andrew Reid was called to the chair. Edward 
Graham was appointed treasurer of the organization. As secretary of the above- 
named committee, he announced that no suitable house had yet been found, but 
that Miss Ann Smith had tendered her services for one year without charge. 
The meeting voted an appropriation of $1,800 for grounds and buildings, and 
$500 for enabling the school to be opened in the fall of the same year. It was 
further ordered that globes and other apparatus be provided. 

The committee on organization reported October 9, that a house should be 
rented at once and maps and other necessaries purchased; that of the two vaca- 
tions, the first should extend from the third Wednesday in April to the third 
Wednesday in May, and the second, from the third Wednesday in October to 
the tliird Wednesday in November; and that a steward, giving proper security, 
should at once be employed to board the students at a cost of not more than $50 
a term. Tuition was not to exceed $20 a year. 


Thus It IS probable that the first session of the Ann Smith Academy began 
November 18, 1807. Josepli Dilwortli was engaged as steward, January y, IbOS, 
and was required to give bond in the sum of $1,000. The schoolroom was found 
to be too small, and Joiin Galbrcath, Jr., came to the rescue by offering the use 
of the large room in the steward's house of tiic Washington Academy. The offer 
was accepted, and at a cost of $25 Mr. Galbreath agreed to lay a plank sidewalk 
between the two school buildings. 

While these adjustments were being affected, the Assembly passed. January 
9, 1808, the needed act of incorporation. This was in response to a petition by 
nineteen persons, who say they selected Lexington as a school for female educa- 
tion, "as it is going forward under favorable appearances, but we arc under the 
disadvantage of not being legally authorized to manage its funds." The first 
clause of this quotation seems to refer to the town rather than the school. 

The first section of the Act is of the following tenor: 

"Be it enacted by the General Assembly, Thai Samuel L. Campbell, John Preston, Ed- 
ward Graham, Thomas L. Preston, Wilham Caruthcrs, Alexander Shields, Daniel Blain, 
James McDowell, John Leyburn, Andrew Reid, James Caruthers, Wilham Wilson. John 
Kiibinson, and the principal teacher, for the time being, be appointed trustees of an acad- 
emy for the education of females, hereby established in the town of Lexington, and county 
o( Rockbridge. And the said trustees are hereby constituted a body politic and corporate, 
by the name of "The Trustees of the Ann Smith Academy, and by that name, shall have 
prrjietual succession, may sue and be sued, and have conmion seal, with tlie power to take 
and hold any estate, real or personal, for the use of the said academy." 

Miss Smith was known to the trustees before they organized the school, and 
it was their aim to secure her if possible. She was a cultured lady, a born teach- 
er, and was highly successful in her new position. Her terms were liberal in the 
extreme. She declined to accept any salary, but her board and her incidental ex- 
penses were to be paid by the trustees. There has been an opinion in Rockbridge 
that she contributed to the school in a pecuniary way, but there is nothing to in- 
dicate that slie gave assistance of this tangible sort. It is more than a century 
since Ann Smith closed her labors in this community, and little is now known of 
her. It is believed that she came from Fredericksburg, although there is some 
ground for thinking she was a native of Maryland. 

At the beginning of 1808 Edward Graham was hired as assistant teacher on 
a salary of $150 a session. Already, one student had been expelled alter a lengthy 
trial. The girl was Nancy Miller, whose offense was smashing a bonnet. But 
she was soon reinstated. 

In June 1808, a iwo-acre lot was purchased from John Moore and his wife, 
Polly, at a cc't of 100 pounds ($3.^3.33). It lay just outside the town liinits, and 
ran down to Kelson street to the Franklin Library lot. The lower portion was after- 
ward laid off into building lots and the proceeds applied on the indebtedness that 
we shall presently mention. The academy building was begun the same year, but 


the completion does not seem to have taken place until the following spring. It 
was a brick structure and rather imposing for those early times. The center was 
of three stories and the wings of two- Colonel Jordan was the contractor for 
the brick work and John Chandler for the wood work. The bills they presented 
were for $4302.67, and here was a beginning of long continued trouble. 

Aside from a miscellaneous item of $106.50, the face value of the fund sub- 
scribed by 113 persons was $3894.50. John Preston headed the list with $500. 
James McDowell, Andrew Reid, and John Robinson followed with subscriptions 
of $200, $160, and $150, respectively. John Leyburn, Alexander Shields, William 
Caruthers, Carter Beverly, Gordon Cloyd, and John Taliaferro gave each $10. 
The remaining pledges were of sums varying from $5 to $60. The subscriptions 
were not fully paid in, even so late as 1827. Thus the school was heavily in debt 
from the start. The income from tuition was scarcely more than sufiScient for 
the ordinary expense, and very little could be done toward paying off the in- 
debtedness. A judgment was at length secured by Jordan, but he allowed a re- 
bate of $250 on account of the damage resulting from the use of inferior brick. 
By the close of 1821, his claim with interest had grown to $2321.66. In March, 
1824, a sale of the schoolhouse and lot was decreed, the personal property of the 
academy, amounting to less than $100, having already been applied to the in- 
debtedness. John Robinson, the benefactor of Washington College, now inter- 
posed, bought off the claimants, and executed a release to the trustees. There 
were no further financial difficulties of a serious kind, and the property was kept 
in repair from the income from the rents. 

Relief had vainly been asked of the legislature. A memorial by the trustees, 
dated 1821, proposed to turn the school over to the state, This paper gives some 
interesting facts. The buildings had cost $5255.51. They had a capacity for 
100 students, besides room for the principal and the steward, and lodging for 
forty-five boarding students. The high-water mark in tlie attendance had been 
seventy, but for several years past the average had been about twenty-five. In- 
struction was given in reading, writing, and arithmetic, grammar, geography, 
natural philosophy, chemistry, astronomy, belles lettres, French, painting, instru- 
mental music, and embroidery. Tuition in the lower branches was twenty-five 
dollars a year. The extra tuition for geography and other advanced studies, and 
for painting, embroidery, and music, varied from $5 to $20. The students were 
generally between the ages of thirteen and sixteen. All had to eat at the steward's 
table, unless there were special arrangement otherwise. The rules of government 
were unwritten, the discipline being on a parental basis. 

It was pointed out that Ann Smith was the only school of its kind in the 
state, and so far as known to the trustees, it was the only one of its kind in the 
entire South. In Virginia the education of females had hitherto been left to the 


scliools of a transient sort. Tlic trustees remarked that an institution of a per- 
manent cliaractcr would tend to break down local prejudices and create some- 
thing like uniformity in sentiment, habits, and manners. Under Miss Smith hun- 
dreds of girls from Virginia and other states had been educated at Lexington, 
who otherwise might never have enjoyed anything better than rudimentary train- 
ing, liut because of the suit threatened by the principal creditor, students were 
discouraged from coming, and the teachers had found employment elsewhere. As 
a private residence the academy building was not worth what it cost. The school 
had no productive funds whatever, and in default of outside help there was no 
future for it. John Ruff and Samuel McD. Reid were made a committee to back 
up the statements in the memorial with evident facts. But as already observed, 
the Assembly turned a deaf ear to the appeal. 

Ann Smith severed her connection with the Academy in 1812. Her reasons 
for doing so are not clearly shown. Perhaps she thought that after working five 
years for no other financial return than her board and other primary expenses, 
she had done her part in putting the new school on its feet. Under her super- 
vision the academy had been very prosperous, and lier departure was sincerely 
regretted by the community. The average attendance had been thirty-four, and 
during sixteen sessions the charges for tuition amounted to $6525%. In the ex- 
pense account, the following arc a few of the items charged to the principal: 

One pair of "Dogj iron$" $12 39 

One i>air shoes I75 

One pair black stockings 292 

30 jards dimity I87S 

One yard blue satin 2.00 

McnditiK an umbrella .19 

Hauling a trunk from Colonel McDowell't 2S 

Yet the loss of the first principal was unfortunate. The attendance fell off 
in a marked degree. From 1821 to 1839 the building was simply rented out for 
school purposes. But after the latter date there was a regular succession of prin- 
cipal, and the school recovered something of its early prestige. Under the Rev- 
erend John W. Pratt, who took charge in 1871, there was an advanced course in 
which the tuition was $50. Boys were admitted about 1877. Then for alwut a 
quarter of a century, the academy was a good day school with classical features. 
The principal was Miss Madge Paxton whose administration continued from 
1879 until 1892. The last trustees were John L. Campbell, Addison Ilogue, W. 
T. Shields, General Scott Shipp, and W. C. Stuart. 

In 1903 the building was rented to the public school board. Fve years later 
the trustees offered to convey the property to the town of Lexington, on condi- 
tion that the town would. — by Octol)er 1, KX)9,— erect a school building of not 
less than $15,000. For this purpose there was a bond issue of $20,000, and the 


venerable building was torn down to give room on the same spot for the High 
School of Lexington. On New Year's day, 1910, the trustees turned over to the 
public school board its unexpended fund of $730, and in return for this gift two 
perpetual scholarships were established in the high school These, known as the 
Ann Smith scholarships, are awarded by the principal to two meritorious girl 
students of Lexington or Rockbridge county. The above act closes the official 
history of the Ann Smith Academy. The school had endured more than a cen- 
tury, and had imparted secondary education to many hundreds of girls, especial- 
ly those of Rockbridge. 

We now present in its actual form. Miss Smith's letter of acceptance at the 
end of the first and experimental year. The original is well preserved and is 
written in a clear, bold, and rather masculine hand. It is followed by a letter of 
farewell from the trustees, who then, as always, were among the leading men of 
Rockbridge. The two letters not only throw some light of their own on the his- 
tory of the academy, but they are interesting specimens of the precise and formal 
epistolary language of a hundred years ago: 

Col. McDowell, Captn. Preston, Captn. Wilson, E. Graham Esqr. 

The favorable sentiments toward me, expressed in your polite address, have dif- 
fused over my mind a considerable degree of complacency, and I beg you to accept my 
thanks, for your esteem and approbation, with which you are pleased to honor me. Your 
solicitude for the prosperity of an institution, that has for its object, the enlargement of the 
female mind, excites my gratitude ; and prompts me to a concurrence in a zeal so laudable. 
My peculiar turn of mind, renders it disagreeable to me, to enter into a positive engagement, 
or to say, or to do any thing, that would oblige me to fix here ; yet for a continuance of my 
exertions, I think you may with safety rely, on my habits of industry, and the friendly sen- 
timents, with which I am impressed, toward the inhabitants of the place. — As to pecuniary 
matters, my accompt at the post-office, and small demands which casualties may oblige me 
to make, will be all I shall ever ask : — However Gentlemen, as you seem inclined to re- 
spect whatever may be interesting to me, I will mention a subject that has engaged my at- 
tention, ever since an unexpected number of students, promised success to our seminary. — 
I have been informed, that the Washington Academy, is much indebted to the exertions of 
the late rcvd. Mr. Graham, and that he was the friend of genius, and of literature. Now, 
could we extend the advantages of this institution, to his family, it might be pleasant to the 
feelings of the benevolent, and grateful, to see an old debt noticed, and the virtues, of a 
father, visited on his children. 

The peculiar circumstances, of one of the Miss Grahams, have disposed me much in her 
favor, and I think it would give me pleasure, to have an opportunity, of showing her at- 

I hope. Gentlemen, what is here suggested will be agreeable to you, if otherwise, re- 
member I am to receive, not to give directions. 

Ann Smith. 

Lexington April 8lh 1808. 


ilisi Ann Smith : 

Madam, The Trustees of the Seminary which bears your name, have heard 
with regret that you have ex|ires>cd an intention of leaving the institution at the end of the 
present session. Although the Trustees have never expected you to continue with them 
longer than would be consistent with your comfort and convenience, yet having been led lo 
believe that you had some time ago, made up your mind to continue at least until next Fall, 
they have not made those efforts to procure a suitable successor which perhaps they might 
otherwise have done. The interests you must naturally be expected to feel for the future 
pros|>erity of an institution which has grown up into eminence under your patronage and 
care, will doubtless induce you to endeavor to leave it in such circumstances as will afford 
a reasonable prospect of its permanent usefulness. Your continuance another session would 
enable the Trustees to collect the greater part of the outstanding subscriptions, to pay the 
debts of the institution, to procure a good set of maps & globes, & perhaps to obtain a 
reputable female successor. But on this subject the Trustees cannot insist. You have al- 
ready done more than, at first they could expect; and if your determination is fixed they 
must in silence acquiesce. It is a duly, however, which they owe to you & to themselves lo 
express, as they on several occasions have done heretofore, the high sense they entertain 
of the assiduity & skill which you have always manifested in conducting the seminary, and 
which had so large a share in raising it from small beginnings to its present eminence. And 
they have the satisfaction to reflect, that it has been their constant endeavor to promote your 
comfort & convenience, so far as it could be done by any effort on their part. If there has 
been any failure, it has arisen from want of skill or want of means, and not of want of in- 

To whatever part of the world you may remove or whatever mey be your future des- 
tiny, you will carry with you their best wishes for your happiness & they will hope that you 
will always entertain a maternal solicitude for the interests and prosperity of the Ann 
Smith Academy. 

So long as education was usually regarded in Virginia as a private interest, 
the pay school had a monopoly of educational cfTorts. And since the well-to-do 
were the most willing as well as the best able to pay tuition fees, it is easy to under- 
stand that much stress was laid on a better training than could well be given in the 
old field school itself. The men who conducted the schools of higher rank were 
frequently college graduates, and were often of superior qualifications for the 
school room. The cfTect was to diffuse a considerable degree of scholastic cul- 
ture among the more prosperous members of the community. The private aca- 
demy had lo.-it none of its repute in the decade following the war of 1861. But 
the opening years of the twentieth century found the free school system so well 
intrenched, and doing so efTicient work in the higher grades, that the private in- 
stitution could no longer compete on equal terms with the public graded school. 
It was l>ecause of this fact that the Ann Smith Academy passed out of existence. 

The anteliellum ?cademy schools at Lexington, Brownsbiirg, Fancy Hill, 
Kerr's Creek, and Ben .Salem could fit the student for college or give him a re- 
spectable start even without college training. Many of the old field school* 
were able to give instruction in the classics. 

I^xinpton. Fancy Hill, and Brownsburg luive been the most conspicuous 
•eats of private academics. The record uf the county seat is to be found in the 



history of Liberty Hall and Ann Smith Academy. Yet in 1834, incorporation was 
asked for the Central School of Lexington, founded in 1819 by John Leyburn, 
John Perry, John Jordan, Andrew Wallace, William H. Letcher, Reuben Ross, 
Samuel Darst, Phoebe Caruthers, John RufT, and Joseph Blair. These persons 
bought a lot and built a house upon it at a cost of $1100. But it would appear 
that primary rather than secondary education was the purpose. 

In the Lexington Gazette for 1855 are the advertisements of four schools 
of academic rank. One of these was the Brownsburg High School, under the care 
of James Greer. Another was the Lexington Classical School, conducted by 
Jacob Fuller, A. M. Its tuition was $40. There was also the announcement 
of the Lexington Mathematical and English Academy, to be presided over by G. 
A. Goodman. The tuition was $8 for five months. The same paper adver- 
tised that James B. Ramsey would open a classical school at Highland Bell school- 
house near New Monmouth. 

In 1860 the Brownsburg Female Seminary advertised a nine months session, 
with tuition at $20 to $40 and board at $100 to $110. 

In 1856 the Valley Star contained a notice of the Rural Valley Seminary, 
'*' three miles north of the Natural Bridge. The principal was the Reverend Sam- 

uel Emerson, A. M. In 1860 the Brownsburg Seminary announced a session of 
nine months, with board at $100, and tuition at $20 to $40. The same year Miss 
Laura Ball was teaching a term of ten months, in Lexington. 

The same fall that brought Genera! Lee to Lexington witnessed the opening 
of the Lexington Classical School by C. P. Estill, a graduate of Washington Col- 
lege and an accomplished scholar. Another laborer in this field at the same time 
was W. B. Poindexter- 

In 1866, the Brownsburg High School, now in charge of Captain H. R. Mor- 
rison, was still at work. The same year the county papers advertised the Fancy 
Hill Qassical School by Colonel W. T. Poague, and the opening of an English 
and Classical School by S. C. Smith. A select school, conducted at the county 
seat for several years by the Misses Baxter, was still at work. His house "Se- 
clusaval," near Fancy Hill, Robert C. McCluer, who died in 1881, maintained for 
many years a classical school for girls. David E. Laird, who won a Robinson 
prize medal in 1856, opened a classical school at old Fancy Hill, and continued it 
for nineteen years. Colonel Poague was associated with him for six years. 

Palmer's Academy, near the junction of the north and south forks of the 
Buffalo seems to have been the last school of this class. A joint stock company 
was formed in 1903. The following spring, the cornerstone was laid with Ma- 
sonic ceremonies and was followed with an educational address by Doctor J. A. 
Quarles of Washington and Lee University. After three quite successful ses- 
sions as a high grade private school, the academy was in 1907 converted into a 
public high school, the first to be organized in this county outside of Lexington. 


No history of Rockbridge would be at all complete without a sketch of the 
Franklin Society. For nearly a century it was foremost among the debating clubs 
of the county, and it provided a public library to the town of Lexington. 

The exact year of its origin is not certainly known. According to the Valley 
Star of 1856, it took its rise in 1800. We find also a belief that it was in existence 
as early as 1796. Both these statements may be correct. During several suc- 
cessive winters the men of Lexington may have maintained a debating club in an 
informal manner and without giving it a distinctive name. They would soon 
have come to feel the need of definite organization. 

Be this as it may, Colonel J. T. L. Preston, in his address before the Frank- 
lin Society in February. 1873, tells us that it was first known as "The Belles 
Lettres Society." Four new names succeeded one another within the next dozen 
years. In 1804 the organization was called "The Union," in 1807, "The Repub- 
lican Society": in 1808. "The Literary Society of Lexington"; and finally Au- 
gust, ISll. "The Franklin Society." 

The following persons are named as the leading members — probably for 
the year 1800 — John Alexander, Andrew Alexander, Doctor S. L. Campbell, 
John Caruthers, James Caruthers, Cornelius Dorman, John Leyburn, Thomas 
L. Preston. Alexander Shields, and I-ayman Wayt. 

Colonel Preston says the society made its first purchase of books in 1813. 
The thirty-eight volumes were mainly on historical subjects. In 1801, however, 
a library, disticnct from the debating society, was organized on the share-hold- 
ing principle. This library was sold in 1825. 

Incorporation came January 30, 1816. The first meeting under the charter 
wa.s to cfTect an organization, and was held in the hall of Washington College. 
Ten years later, ground was p\irchased at the corner of Nelson and JefTerson 
streets, and a building was erected at a cost of $1,800. Several years later the lot 
was enlarged. The original charter expired by limitation, February 1, 1850, but a 
renewal was granted and this was to remain valid until 1870. The prtition a'^king 
for the renewal informs us that in 1840 the house and lot were worth $2.!>00. 
and that the 1400 volumes in the library had cost $3,000. But seven years later, 
the Vallfv Star tells us there were forty shareholders, anfl that the real estate 
and the library were each worth $4,000. A meeting held Januar>' 27, 1851. de- 
cided to a<;k that the society be given leave to enlarge its quarters, its building not 
being sufTiciently commodious. The Franklin Hall was twenty-four bv fifty feet 
on the ground and two stories high. The upper floor was occupied by the hall 



for debates, which were held every Saturday night. The hbrary was also kept in 
the rocm, and for more than fifty years John W. Fuller was the librarian. By 
1873, $10,000 had been expended for ground, house, and library. The books came 
through the war of 1861 unscathed. 

The questions for debate were scientific as well as literary, and were ex- 
ceedingly varied in their scope. "Since 1850," remarks Colonel Preston, "no 
subject of interest, of national, or state, or county importance, has failed to be dis- 
cussed in the Franklin. In 1860-61, how wide the difference of opinion, and how 
sternly those opinions were held !" 

Some of the questions for debate in the pre-war period were these: 

"Would a separation of the states be preferable to a limited monarchy?" 
Decided in the negative. 

"Are theatrical amusements prejudicial to morality ?" Decided in the af- 

"Does man consist in two substances, special and distinct from each other?" 
Decided in the negative. 

"Can any heathen be saved who never heard the name of Jesus?" Decided in 
the afifirmative by a unanimous vote. 

"Ought the Scriptures to be used as a classbook in the schools?" Decided in 
the affirmative. 

"Would it be polite to repeal the hog law in this town?" Decided in the 

From the first there was a good feeling between the Franklin Society and 
Washington College. It is also worthy of note in this connection that the estab- 
lishing of the Virginia Military Institute was first publicly discussed by this 

The weekly debates came to an end in 1891, and in the same year the hall 
and library were transferred to the Washington and Lee University on condition 
that a Franklin Society scholarship be founded for the benefit of some student 
from Rockbridge. In 1909 the hall was sold by the university. It was destroyed 
by fire January 8, 1^15. 

The Franklin Society flourished almost a hundred years. It was indeed a wise 
foresight that purciiased the lot and built the hall. Without such an anchor a 
debating society will languish and at lengfth dissolve. But real estate is held to 
with tenacity, even though it may not put back a dollar into the pockets of its 
owners. The hall was a place for lectures and entertainments as well as debates. 
It was frequented by the ablest talent of Lexington, and among the attendants, 
despite the fact that the automobile had not yet arrived, were men from the rural 
districts. The society exerted a wide and beneficial influence in Lexington and 
its vicinity, and even outside of Rockbridge county. 


Interest waned after the coming of the iron horse to Lexington. The debates 
languished. There seinicd to be only one thing for tlie society to do, and that 
was to close its doors. In our day there is a greater inclination to scan the daily 
newspaper in its headlines, to gallop through the "latest book," and to go joy- 
riding in a Ford than to take time for the more substantial benefit that comes 
through the perusal of the world's classics, or the threshing out of some topic of 
interest by debaters who prepare themselves for the fray. Ours is a time of tran- 
sition, a hurried, feverish time. But all fevers bum themselves out, and as our 
new century becomes more "stabilized," the debate may once more come into its 
own. It may also be that some of the people who knew the old Franklin will know 
a new one. 



The Repository — Antebellum Newspapers — The Newer Journalism — Rockbridge 

IN Literature 

At the outbreak of the War of the Revolution, there were only two news- 
papers published in Virginia and both were published at the capital. Neither of 
them contained more reading matter than one of our present four-page Sunday 
School papers. 

On first glance it is almost a wonder that within thirty years a weekly news- 
paper of a still larger size should appear in distant Lexington. But at the open- 
ing of the nineteenth century the county seat of Rockbridge was one of the more 
important of the few and small towns of this state. It was also a time when poli- 
tical feeling in America was running high. This was a powerful incentive to the 
multiplication of partisan newspapers. 

In the library of the Washington and Lee University is the only copy of the 
Rockbridge Repository, known to be in existence. It bears the date, Wednes- 
day, January 19, 1804. The title-page carries the motto, "Truth our Guide, the 
Public Good Our Aim"; and as a vignette, a bust of the Goddess of Liberty. 
A further scrutiny of the heading shows that publication began October 21, 1802. 
The size of the page is that of a five-column paper of the present day. Long prim- 
er type is used. The publisher was James McMullin, and the subscription price 
was $2 a year. The editor claims that his patronage is widely distributed. A 
recently established opposition paper was the Telegraph, which McMullin, like a 
true knight of the quill, excoriates in his editorial column. The Repository was 
still in existence in 1805. 

It is related in Foote's Sketches of Virginia that in October. 1804, the first 
number of the Virginia Religious Magazine was issued from the press of Samuel 
Walkup in Lexington. That periodical, which was of sixty-four pages, continued 
to appear every other month for three years. It is said to have been the first of 
the kind to be published south of the Potomac. 

A dark age with respect to our knowledge of Rockbridge journalism now ap- 
pears to set in. In 1835, a paper calling itself The Union, and published by C. C. 
Baldwin, changed its name to the Lexington Gazette and under the latter title 
it has appeared ever since, excepting that it was The Gazette and Banner, in 1866, 
The Virginia Gazette, in 1869-70. and for a while in after years, The Lexington 
Gazette and Commercial Advertiser. Until after 1873 its editors were O. P. 
Baldwin. C. C. Baldwin, James Pattnn, Alphonsn Smith. David P Curry. Tames 


K. Edmondson, John L. Campbell, W. W. Scott, Josiah McXutt, Samuel H. 
Letcher, John J. Laffcrty, and A. T. Barclay. In 1839, The Valley Star came in- 
to existence and was published until after the presidential campaign of 1860. 

For more than twenty years these well-matched journals occupied the local 
field. Each had an ornamental title-head, this being a quite universal feature of 
tlie American weeklies of that period and also for some years after the war of 
1861. The page is of seven columns. The type is smaller than is now customary 
in papers of this class, so that the amount of reading matter is very considerable. 
Fully two pages are devoted to Congressional doings, national politics, stories, and 
miscellaneous matter. The proceedings in the halls of Congress are given at 
such great length, and such liberal extracts arc taken from the speeches of 
"Timothy Tremendous" and his contemporaries, that this department of either 
paper reads like the Coiigrcssioval Record. So much space is given to politics — 
of the nation even more than of the state, — that the local news is very meagre. 
The person who is delving into local history consequently finds little to reward 
him for his search. The advertising matter, which covers nearly two pages, is 
set almost solid. Capitals and heavy-faced type arc counted upon to catch the 
eye of the reader. The art of display was little understood. 

The Valley Star supported the Democratic party. The Gazette supported the 
short-lived American Party, which in a large degree supplanted the Whig, and 
disappeared in I860 after changing its name to the Constitutional Union party. 
Some features of the advertising columns look strange to us now. There are 
advertisements of runaway negroes, while certain jjcrsons announce that they arc 
in the market for the i)urchase of slaves. Occasional mention of the Maryland 
Lottery calls to mind the fact that it has not been so very long since the Ixiuis- 
iana I.nitcry was excluded from the mails after a long fight with its large cornip- 
tion fund. A little earlier in the century, even cluirclies did not scruple to raise 
funds by resorting to lotteries. But a healthier moral tone at length drove this 
form of gambling to cover. 

To the historian of the war of 1861, the Lcxingtun papers of the years 1859- 
1865 will repay a close examination. Particularly is this true of the twelve 
months ending with May. 1861. The issues of the day are .ably and lengthily 
discussed in the editorial cohnnns, in articles contributed by prominent citizens, 
and in letters coming from a distance. Even the four years of actual combat did 
not induce the editors to cut out very much of the space they had formerly al- 
lowed to poetry, fiction, travel. househoM items, and paragraphs of general in- 
terest. In pursuing this course the editors were wise. Such reading was a re- 
laxation from the strain which was sure to follow a too absorbing interest in the 
events which persisted in orctipving the foreground. 

The Caselte appeared quite regularly throjjghout the war period, even 


though it reduced its pages from four to two. It was more fortunate than some 
other journals of the South, for it was often compulsory to resort to the most 
indifferent materials, even wall paper, in order to come out at all. 

Until after the clash of arms in April, 1861, the Lexington papers were tem- 
perate in the language they used when speaking of the North and its people. But 
after that occurrence there was an abrupt change. 

That the close of that conflict indeed marked the "end of an era," is perhaps 
nowhere more evident than in a comparison of the journalism of the 50's with 
that of the decade following the war. The earlier style simply passed out of 
existence. In the latter period there is a new point of view. The minute re- 
ports of Congressional proceedings are a thing of the past. Matters of state, 
and particularly of county interest, receive a greatly increased share of attention. 
In this is reflected a desire to repair the waste caused by the war. Economic 
change compels some change in mental attitude. There is a greater activity of the 
social consciousness. The literary feature is by no means neglected, and is indeed 
better than in the earlier time. There now begins a "fighting them over" of the 
campaigns of the war, articles of this class embracing biographies of Confederate 
leaders, controversies relative to military operations, and incidents of camp, march, 
and battle. The editorials are fiery and speak of the Federal administration as 
though it were a foreign government. The general effect of these on a Northern 
reader would have been much like that of rubbing a cat's back in the direction 
which is not agreeable to that animal. But in this respect there was little to 
choose in the political editorials of America, whether written north or south of 
the old Mason and Dixon line. On neither side was there any lack of ginger. 
The partisan journalism of that period, irrespective of section, has had much to 
answer for in keeping alive the coals of distrust and misunderstanding. How- 
ever, this peppery style of editorial writing was not often rebuked. 

Wit and humor were more characteristic of this period in Rockbridge jour- 
nalism than cither before or since. Conspicuous in this line are snake stories and 
other "yarns" of a like degree of extravagance ; mention of orations by "Fur- 
iosus Eombasticus" and the "Reverend Theodore Swellhead"; the "Intercepted 
Letters" that were appearing about 1877. A forecast of the year 1874 we trans- 
fer to this chapter, using a slight amount of editing. 

Careful calculations based on the respective situations and appearances of the heavenly 
bodies, by a competent astrologist, led to the following conclusions concerning coming 
events in this county during the year just begun. 

The year will open with snows and the consumption of immense quantities of egg- 
nogg. The shire-town of the county will experience a political revolution and consequent 
change in its administration policy and municipal officers. It will rain persistently for one 
week and then freeze and cause people to "slick up." The Frankh'n Society will disestablish 
the English Church. People will get drunk at court and other days, chew tobacco and 
smoke, and dip snuff. Some will be put in the "cage." It will snow and sleet and rain 


some more. One hundred and fifty people will gel tired living singly and agree to do »o 
doubly. Some will die. The wheat will look dreadfully bad. It will certainly turn out to be 
"winter-killed." taken by the fly, or rust. There will be no corn in the land. The taxes will 
be high. The dogs will kill some sheep. The roads will be in a miserable condition. Some 
people will eat possums and coons. A few will quarrel with our representatives in the legis- 
lature, and many will want to go there themselves. There will be preaching in all the 
churches tolerably regularly. People will sue and be sued. There will be court once a month 
and four times a year, too. The bank will not honor your check when you haven't 
any money there. The railroad won't come this year. Money will be hard to get. Children 
will be born with red. black, light, curly, and kinky hair, and some without any. None will 
be bom with teeth. Some will be born good and some bad. There will be fights, fusses, 
and frowns. 

In 1874 the Gazette thus speaks of its veteran typesetter: 

There is a printer in the Gazette office. Burgess by name. He has been "setting" from 
scrawly type for half a century. The arrowhead inscriptions would be as plain as pica to 
him. He can put in type the curious marks made by the county court lawyer. He never 
failed on Judge McLaughlin's writing, fine as if made by a cambric needle, with one good 
letter beginning a word and the balance a wavy line. Colonel .*llen couldn't balk him with 
microscopic manuscript looking like the fuzr on a flea. But the law class sent up Mr. 
Tucker's notes to print. For two hours Burgess tried in vain to start a single line on any 
paragraph. The unrappy printer felt his head to find if it was too hot or out of gear \ 
walk in the cool air gave him no aid. After we had examined thera ten minutes. Burgess 
looked over our shoulder and said we had them upside down. 

All in all, the Rockbridge newspaper of this period was a distinct advance 
over that of the 50's and had a general solidity that has not since been surpassed. 

The Rockbridge County News, appearing as a non-political paper, made its 
bow November 7. 1884, and from that time to the present has been a well-printed 
local newspaper, substantial in its contents, and strong in its presentation of mat- 
ters that arc of fundamental interest to the people of its county. 

When we compare the Rockbridge paper of 1918 with its predecessor of 
1858, the contrast is striking. Local news predominates in the former over all 
other kinds, and even state news occupies a subordinate place. Very long articles 
are infrequent, unless in the case of an address at the University or the Institute. 
Miscellaneous reading, unless it may feature as a topic of the day finds little room. 
The open spaces in the advertisements contrast strongly with the clo.sely printed 
advertising columns of the earlier period. 

In most instances the literary record of a county is soon told. Occasionally, 
in f.irt. there is no record to tell. Rut the list of bnoks by natives of Rockbridge, 
or lonp-time residents of the county, is of quite formid.ible length. So difficult 
would he the task of constructing a full and accurate biography, that we have not 
felt warranted in undertaking it Sttch titles ns hnve hrcnmr known to us are 
in general to be found in the sketches comprising Chapter XXXIII. 



The Colonial System — The Militl\ in The Revolution — The Rockbridge Organization 

— Muster Days 

Before the Revolution there was no standing army in any of the American 
colonies, and the exclusive reliance in time of war was upon the militia. In this 
contingency, all the white males in Virginia, if adult and able-bodied, were sup- 
posed to be subject to the call of the county lieutenants. The commissioned of- 
ficers were nominated by the county court and confirmed by the governor. 

The day of general muster was the fourth Tuesday of September. There 
was a company muster every three months. The private went to muster or to 
war in his ordinary clothes. The hunting shirt, sometimes of one color and some- 
times of another, and the coonskin cap were so typical on the frontier as to serve 
the purpose of uniform. The militiaman took his own rifle or smooth-bored gun, 
and in his belt were a hunting knife and a tomahawk. The company officer seem 
generally to have dressed like the privates and to have carried his rifle and pow- 
der-horn, the same as his soldiers. 

A commission in the military service was esteemed very honorable, and was 
regarded as a stepping stone to something higher. Yet it was only the officer with 
a strong inborn power of leadership who could exert much influence over the 
frontiersman. The latter was almost without any sense of military ethics, and 
could not see why his neighbor should have any designated right to give orders. 
He was not inclined to obey except when it suited his pleasure to do so. His lack 
of precaution as well as discipline often caused him to run into an ambuscade, or 
to permit the Indian to get close to his stockade without being seen. His "tour of 
duty" was seldom for more than three months, and frequently it was for not more 
than one or two months. While thus absent the pay of the private was from a 
shilling to a shilling and a half a day. 

During the Revolution there was no radical change in the method of public 
defense. A standing army was held in so great suspicion that it was all but im- 
possible to convince the leaders of affairs of the unwisdom of pitting an insubordi- 
nate militia against trained regulars. Nevertheless, a considerable number of 
men were enlisted in the Continental service. When trained by professional 
drillmasters, many of whom were foreigners, they could hold their own against 
the best of the redcoats. This shows that it was not the men themselves who 
were at fault, but the system, or rather the lack of system. Occasionally, as at 
King's Mountain and the Cowpens. and to a partial extent at Guilford, the militia 


fought to good purpose. But in general their propensity to take to their heels 
caused tlitni to be lieid in contempt by the Continentals and to be sworn at by 
the higher olhcers. No militiaman couid tell how his comrades might act. Ihcy 
were easily demoralized, and when this was the case, each person looked out for 
himself. 1-ew of their olhcers had a practical knowledge of the art of war, and 
were consequently the less able to turn raw, wililul material into good soldiery 
in a month or two. Washington, Morgan, Henry Lee, and other leaders under- 
stood the situation perfectly, but had to contend with opposition from men like 
Jetferson, who, with respect to military matters were impractical and iiieflicient. 
But for the influence of men like him, the war might have ended in 1777 instead of 

Some light on the comparative merit of the trained and untrained soldiers 
of the Revolution can be gathered by reading their appuications for pension. In 
the case of a veteran who had served in a Continental regiment, we find that he 
usually had seen considerable of the war. Not infrequently he was wounded or 
captured in some important engagement. But when the militiaman was out on 
several tours, the aggregate seldom amounted to a year of service, and we come 
upon the very frequent statement that the applicant "was in no battle." 

The militia companies of Augusta were expected to consist of expert rifle- 
men. Each soldier was to "furnish himself with a good rifle, if to be had, other- 
wise with a tomahawk, common firelock, bayonet, pouch or cartouch box, and 
three charges of powder and ball." If the rifleman made an aflidavit that he 
could not supply himself as above, the equipment was to be furnished at public 
expense. For providing his own equipment, he was to be allowed a rental of one 
pound a year. His daily pay was to be twenty-one cents. From this was de- 
diuted an allowance for "hunting shirt, a pair of leggings, and binding for his 

After American independence was accomplished, X'irginia was divided in- 
to divisions, brigade, and regimental districts. The militia of this county belonged 
to the Thirteenth Brigade District, which lay in the Third Division District. In 
1794 there were five companies in each of the two battalions of the Fighth Reg- 
iment, but in the year following there were six companies in each battalion. A 
grenadier and a rifle company are mentioned in 1794, and one company each of 
cavalry, artillery, and light infantry in 1815. A division into two regiments seems 
to have taken place in 1807, in which year we find mention of the Third Regiment. 

To each division were attached one regiment of cavalry and one of artillery. 
The regiment, consisting of at least 400 men and commanded by a colonel, was di- 
vided into two battalions, one commanded by the licntenant-colonel and one by 
the major. I-'ach battalion had a stand of colors. In each company were one 
captain, two first lieutenants, two second lieutenants, five sergeants, and six cor- 


porals. The ensign, a commissioned officer having charge of the colors and 
ranking below the second lieutenant, was dispensed with after the war of 1812. 
On the stall of the colonel was one quartermaster, one paymaster, one surgeon, 
one surgeon's mate, one adjutant with the rank of captain, one sergeant major, 
one quartermaster-sergeant, two principal musicians, and drum and tife majors. 
Each company had one drum and either a fife or a bugle. A failure to attend 
muster meant a fine, usually seventy-five cents, and this was put into the hands 
of the sheriff for collection. 

Regimental muster came off in April or May. and was preceded by a three 
days, training of the officers, who were gaily appareled. Their costume included 
a hat with dangling feathers and a long, swallow-tailed dark-blue coat with 
eqauletts and brass buttons. The privates were uniformed and sometimes car- 
ried canes or umbrellas in place of arms. 

The day of general muster was the event of the year. It brought to town 
a great crowd of both sexes and races and all ages. The costumes presented all 
the colors imaginable. There were sheet-covered wagons with little tables in 
front, loaded with sweet cider, ginger ale, half-moon pies, lemonade, cofTee, and 
cup-shaped pound cakes. There was the military strut of the officer, the proud 
prancing of ribbon-decked stallions, and the soul-stirring music of drum and fife. 
The hour of muster was ten o'clock. As the time approached, a detachment of 
cavalry was sent to escort the colonel and his staff to the parade ground. Guards 
were posted around it to keep the field clear. After two hours of drill, during 
which each man kept his own step the procession came back to town, and was 
dissolved with the long roll, concluded with "Yankee Doodle," or some other 
quick, lively tune. The colonel then complimented his men and told them how 
interesting they would make it for an enemy if ever they should have to meet 
him. There was finally the command to "break ranks, march." The sequel was 
a genera! imbibing of liquids much stronger than those vended at the tables in 
front of the wagons. This had its inevitable accompaniment of fights and bloody 
faces. There was noise and fuss of every description. It was a day of "rare 
frolic for the boys, a scary time for the mothers, and a busy time for the magis- 
trates and constables." 

As a practical instrumentality, the militia system of that period was little 
better than a farce. Its inefficiency appears in the fact that before the middle 
of the century it had broken down and continued to exist only on paper. 


Emicration FkOM The Col-ntv — Notable Namu 

Almost from the very dawn of settlement there has been a persistent em- 
igration from Rockbridge. Like all agricultural communities of its class, this 
county lias been a nursery ground for the peopling of newer portions of the 
Union. For a long while the outflow was almost wholly toward the points in the 
western half of the compass dial. Emigrants from this locality were in the fore- 
front in peopling the liluegrass region of Kentucky. So many of the sons and 
daughters of Rockbridge poured into the Valley of East Tennessee as to make 
some of its counties — Blount, for instance — look like colonies of Rockbridge. 
Some of the later emigrants did not pause until they reached the Pacific coast or 
the vicinity of the Rio Grande. 

But during the last quarter-century the eastern half of the compass dial is 
claiming some attention. Tiie Great West has its pristine newness, and the 
Atlantic seaboard presents certain attractions. There is an appreciable reflex 
movement felt even as far as the Pacific. The outgoing tide from Rockbridge 
may be termed cosmopolitan, so far as the boundaries of the .^mcrican Republic 
are concerned. 

It is significant that from the center of the county, where there was the 
most slavery as well as the most wealth, the emigrants used to find the greatest 
attraction in the planting districts of the .South and Southwest. But fmni the 
western border the emigrant has been much more inclined to settle west of the 

The people of Rockbridge have been a rather prolific stock. Had the rate of 
increase which was true of all America until 1840 been maintained to the pres- 
ent year, and had there Inrn an iron law to keep any person from moving out, 
this county would now contain as many inhabitants as the city of Washington. It 
will thus appear that the people of Rockbridge birth or ancestry who live outside 
our l)ordcrs arc vastly more numerous than the people actually within them. 

TTie colonial imigrants from Ulster were the pick of that region. The other 
people who took part in the subjugation of the Rockbridge wilderness were 
among the more energttic of the dwellers along the Atlantic coast. The fusion of 
these rlrmrnts produced a stock virile, forceful, and intellectual. That from it 
should come st.Ttpsmrn. soldiers, explorers, professional men, writers, and in- 
ventors, was a more natural consequence. Of the celebrities from Rockbridge 













Ki-.v. ll.i:.NKV \V. .\KLah.iii,in. D. D. 
Pastor N'cw Providence Presbyterian Church 
October, 1909 
There have been only eit;ht pastors of New Providence 
Presbyterian Church in 17.i years of its history. 

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named in "Augusta County, Virginia, in the History of the United States," fifty- 
three are contributed by four families : the McUoweils, the Dunlaps, the Logans, 
and the McKees. 

No attempt to construct a Rockbridge Hall of Fame can result in complete- 
ness. To sift out from the major and muior celebrities of America all the names 
traceable to a Rockbridge source is a hopeless undertaking. In this chapter we 
mention only such names as have come to our notice. 

Furthermore, Rockbridge has been much honored by men and women who 
were born and reared elsewhere, yet came here to live, sometimes not until the 
evening of their days had arrived. The influences that drew them here lay very 
much in the two great educational institutions of Lexington. Conspicuous among 
the personages of this class are Robert E. Lee, the foremost chieftain of the 
Confederacy ; Stonewall Jackson, the right arm of Lee ; Matthew F. Maury, the 
"Pathfinder of the Seas"; John Brown and William Graham, founders of Liberty 
Hall Academy; Henry Ruffner and George Junkin, presidents of Washington 
College; Francis H. Smith, fifty years the head of the Virginia Military Institute; 
John W. Brockenbrough, jurist and teacher of law, David H. Hill, the soldier- 
professor; J. Randolph Tucker, authority on constitutional law; William L. Wis- 
son, congressman, cabinet ofticer, and university president ; John M. Brooke, the 
professor who planned the ironclad Merrimac and made ocean cables possible 
by his device for determining the depth of the ocean ; and finally, the authoresses, 
Margaret Junkin Preston and Susan P. Lee. 

It would be very interesting to know to a certainty how many counties, cit- 
ies, and towns in our forty-eight states have been named for Rockbridge men. 
As to counties, we know of more than are to be found in Arizona, Delaware, Ne- 
vada, or Wyoming, or in any of the six New England states. 

Four counties, a great commercial city, and towns and villages in twelve 
states bear the name of General Sam Houston, the Washington of Texas. Allen 
county, Kentucky, was named for Colonel John Allen, killed in the battle of the 
Raisin in 1813 ; Anderson county, South Carolina, for General Robert Anderson, 
Campbell county, Kentucky, for Colonel John Campbell. Carlisle county, also 
in Kentucky, bears the name of an eminent son of the Bluegrass State, whose 
first American ancestors lived on the Calf pasture. Carson county in Texas 
was named for Samuel P. Carson, and Craighead county in Arkansas for 
Thomas B. Craighead, a descendant of Alexander Craighead, a pioneer divine 
who owned a farm in the Borden Tract. Dale county in Alabama was named for 
General Samuel Dale, whose parents left Rockbridge in 1775. "Big Sam" was a 
great scout and Indian fighter. In eight days and witiiout change of horse, he 
rode from Georgia to New Orleans to deliver a message for General Andrew 
Jackson. He sat in the legislatures of Alabama and Mississippi, and in 1831 



bupcniitcndcd the rcniuval of tlic LhocUtw ihbc to Oklahoma. Edmondson coun- 
ty, Kciituck}, contains Maniniolh Cave and was named (or Captam Jolin Ldmond- 
son, anotlier soldier killed in the battle of tiic river Ivaiiin. Estill county in tlic 
same state was named for James, a brotlirr to Benjamin Estill, ancestor to the 
Estills wlio used to live in Lexington. Hays county, Nevada, coniinemoralcs tlic 
name of Colonel John E. Hays, the first shcrill of San Erancisco. Jo Uaviess 
county, Illinois, was named for Colonel Joseph H. Daviess, a rival of Henry 
Clay as an orator and the first Western lawyer to appear before the Supreme 
Court i<f the United States. McDowell county in West \irginia and the town 
ot McDowell in Virginia were named for Governor James McDowell. Meigs 
county, Tennessee, was named for Return J. Meigs, who lived a while on the 
Calf pasture. The county of Rhea in Tennessee derives its name from a member 
of the Rhea connection of this county. In Mississippi is a Tate county. Warrick 
county, Indiana, is named in honor of Jacob Warrick, who was born on the 
Calfpasture in 1773 and fell in the battle of Tippecanoe. He was a son of John 
and grandson of William Warwick. His descendants figure in Western history. 
The counties in Kentucky and Indiana that are known as Whitley derive the 
name from William Whitley, born in Rockbridge in 1749. He heard glowing ac- 
counts of Kentucky, to which his wife, whose maiden name was Esther I*"uller, 
made this comment: "Billy, if I were you I would go and see." Billy made his 
tour of investigation by traveling afoot. He was killed at the Thames in 1813, 
where he was serving as a volunteer, although sixty-four years of age. Two of 
his descendants were William and Milton Sublette, who achieved some fame as 
explorers in the Rocky Mountain region. Captain William Sublette built Eort 
Laramie in 1834. 

At least five governors of states were born in this county ; James McDowell 
and John Letcher, governors of Virginia, George Mathews, twice governor of 
Georgia, Sannicl Houston, governor of Tennessee and later of Texas, and 
Alexander G. McNutt. governor of Mississippi. The governors of Rockbridge 
parentage or rearing are much more numerous. The list includes Henry C. Stuart, 
of Virginia, Milliam A. MacCorklc and Henry M. Mathews, of West \'irginia. 
B- Gralz Brown and Herbert S. Hadley, of Missouri. Joseph M. Brown, Joseph 
E. Brown, and Nathaniel E. Harris, of Georgia, William G. Brownlow. Robert L. 
Caruthcrs (not inaugurated), and Robert G. Taylor, of Tennessee, Orion Clcnicns, 
of Nevada. James M. Harvey, of Kansas, J. Proctor Knott, of Kentucky, Eli H. 
Murray, of L'tah, Th( mas Posey, of Indiana, and William A. Richardson and Wil- 
liam Walker, of Nebfaska. Clemens. Murray, Posey. Richardson, and Walker, 
were territorial "•. Knott was a scion of the McElroy family. 

As to I'edc: ''rs we are able to name B. Gratz Brown, of Missouri. 

James Brown and Thomas Posey, of I^uisiana, Robert H. Adams, of Mississippi, 


Joseph E. Brown, of Georgia, William G. Brownlow, and Robert L. Taylor, of 
Tennessee, Joseph M. Dixon, of Montana, James M. Harvey, of Kansas, William 
Lindsay and William Logan, of Kentucky, George S. Nixon, of Nevada, Miles 
Poindexter and John L. Wilson, of Washington, and William A. Richardson, of 
Illinois. Dixon, Nixon, Poindexter, and Wilson are respectively of Hadley, Es- 
till, Alexander, and McKee lineage. Landon C. Haynes, who sprang from the 
Taylor family was a Confederate senator from Tennessee. 

Among members of the Federal House of Representatives we find Simon 
H. Anderson, William A. Anderson, John Boyle, George W. Dunlap, Samuel Mc- 
Kee, and Thomas Montgomery, of Kentucky; Augustus A. Chapman, Henry A. 
Edmondson, Archibald Stuart, Edgar McC. Wilson, and Thomas Wilson, of Vir- 
ginia; William C. Dunlap, Abraham McClellan, and Nathaniel G. Taylor, of Tenn- 
essee; William McK. Dunlap, of Indiana; Joseph W. McCorkle,of California; Jos- 
eph J. McDowell, of Ohio; John McKee of Alabama; John T. Stuart and Medill 
McCormick, of Illinois; Edward J. Gay, of Louisiana; Charles B. Timberlake, of 
Colorado. Boyle, Chapman, Edmundson, and Stuart are respectively from the 
Tilford, Alexander, Reyburn, and Walker families. 

Men who have held the rank of major-general or brigadier-general in the 
Continental, Federal, Confederate, or foreign service are these: John C. Bate, 
Jeremiah T. Boyle, James P. Brownlow, Robert Cunningham, Henry C. Dunlap, 
James Dunlap, William McK. Dunn, Samuel L. Glasgow, Harry T. Hays, Felix 
Huston, Albert C. Jenkins, Edward J. McClernand, John C. McFerran, William 
L. Marshall, Thomas Posey, Eli D. Murray, John D. Stevenson, J. G. Tilford, 
J. E. B. Stuart, James A. Walker, and Lucien Walker. Boyle sprang from the 
Tilfords, Dunn and Jenkins from the McNutts, Huston and Murray from the Al- 
iens, McClernand from the Dunlaps, Marshall from the Paxtons, and Stevenson 
from the Houstons. John M. Bowyer and John C. Fremont, Jr., attained the 
rank of rear-admiral. Joseph E. Montgomery was a commodore in the Con- 
federate navy. 

A further list of the sons of Rockbridge who have reached high position in 
public life embraces these names: John McKinley (from Logan family). Justice 
of the Supreme Court of the United States; Jacob M. Dickenson (McGavock 
family). Secretary of War; Richard G. Dunlap, Secretary of War of the Republic 
of Texas; James Guthrie (Dunlap family), Secretary of the Treasury; William 
H. Jack (Houston family) , Secretary of State of the Republic of Texas; James 
Brown. Minister to France; James G. Birney (McDowell family), Minister to 
the Netherlands; Charles Denby (Harvey family). Minister to China: ^^'iIliam C. 
Dunlap. Minister to Mexico from Texas: John Hays Hammond (Hays family), 
special Ambassador to Great Britain ; Alexander K. McClung, Minister to Bolivia; 
Robert S. McCormick, Ambassador to France, Russia, and Austria-Hungary ; 


Thomas A. R. Nelson (Paxton family), Minister to China; Henry L. Wilson 
(McKcc iamily), Ambassador to Mexico; James Wilson (McKce family). Min- 
ister to \ cnezuela. 

We now come to a list of rather less prominent names. These are William 
Y. Allen, chaplain of the Congress of the Republic of Texas; H. S. Ucattic, the 
first man to build a house in Carson valley, Nevada ; Major Lancelot Armstrong, 
second in command of a Kentucky regiment in the battle of New Orleans, J. W. 
Bashford (Dunlap family), bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church; Ishom 
Gilliam, shcrifT of Madison county, Illinois, when it covered the north half of that 
state, and instrumental in keeping slavery out of Illinois; Edward J. Glasgow, 
overland trader and captain under Colonel Donaphan in the battle of the Sacra- 
mento; Doctor Alfred Y. Hull, editor and legislator in Iowa; Stephen D. Logan, 
an Illinois jurist; John McKee, register of the United States Land Office in Illi- 
nois; Colonel John McKee, a native of Rockbridge, who in 1813 induced the 
Choctaws and Chicamaugas to side with the Americans ; Robert McKnight, leader 
of what was probably the first private trading expedition to Santa Fe ; Colonel 
Joseph L. Meek, relative to James K. Polk, who helped to establish a civil gov- 
ernment in Oreogn in 1843 ; James Moore, a native of Rockbridge and president 
of Transylvania Unifcrsity; William McC. Morrison, missionary to the Congo; 
Joel P. Walker, who in 1841 pili>ted the first emigrant family to the Pacific coast, 
Joseph Walkup, a lieutenant-governor of California ; William M. Todd, a founder 
of the California Republic of 1845 and painter of the famous Bear Flag of that 

The writers of more or less prominence are numerous. Tlicy include Archer 
Anderson, Joseph R. Anderson, Marian P. Angelotti (Walker family), Oswald F.. 
Brown, Nettie H. Bringhurst (Houston family), O. W. Coursey, Samuel McC. 
Crothers, (Dunlap family), Maria T. Daviess, (Houston family), Fanny C. Dun- 
can (McEIroy family), Jesse B. Fremont, Ellen Glasgow, Hiram Hadley, James 
A. Hadley. Mary G. Humphries, (Gay family), Anne B. Hyde (Taylor family), 
Louisa P. L'loney, Benjamin McCutchen. John T. McCutchen. Robert Barr Mc- 
Cutchcn, Robert M. McEIroy, Joseph W. McSpadden, Benjamin C. Moomaw. 
John B. McFerrin. Ijinier McKce, Tannic Hayncs Martin (Taylor fabily>.Maiid 
L. Merrimom (Paxton family). John G. Paxlon, William M. Paxton, Hannah 
D. Pitfman, (Hamilton family), John Rankin, Edwin D. Roylc (Peebles fami- 
ly), Ripley D. Saunders (Dunlap family), Charles .\. Smith. Egbert W. Smith, 
Henry I^uis Smith, John R. S. Stcrrctt, Givens B. Strickler (Walker family), 
James I. Vance, Joseph A. Vance, Sue L. A. Vaughan, George A. Wauchopc, 
Emma S. White, Bert E. Young. 

Tlie wives of several notable men were of Rockbridge origin. They include 
the consorts of Edward Bates, Secretary of War, General N. B. Forrest, General 



R. E. Colston, General G. J. Pillow, General Thomas Posey, General John A. Mc- 
Clernand, William O. Bradley, Senator from Kentucky, General Hugh L. White, 
Rufus W.Cobb, Governor of Alabama, and Frank White, Governor of North 
Dakota. It is believed that the wife of President Lincoln should be included. 

In the field of invention the names of Cyrus H. McCormick and James E. A. 
Gibbs easily stand foremost. McCormick made a practical invention when only 
fifteen years old, and manufactured sixty-eight of his reapers at W^alnut Grove. 
William A. Si-vv;ird declared that this machine advanced the line of Western set- 
tlement thirty miles a year. Until it appeared America was not the granary of 
Europe. In 1836-37 there were bread riots in the city of New York, and grain 
was imported from Europe to the amount of 1,300,000 bushels. It is one of the 
ironies of history that a native of a slave state should give the free states an in- 
dustrial weapon which in the war of 1861 outbalanced the negro labor of the 
South. The rotary hook devised by Gibbs was one of the fundamental things in 
the evolution of the perfected sewing machine of the twentieth century. 

We next give in alphabetical order some facts relating to persons of note 
of Rockbridge, or who are connected with Rockbridge families. 

The founder of Decoration Day was Mrs. Vaughn, of Missouri,whose maiden 
name was Sue L. Adams. Another member of the Ad.ams family of this county 
was Robert H., who settled at Natchez, Mississippi, in 1819. He was elected to 
the Federal Senate in 1830. but died the same year. Still another was Hugh, 
very prominent in the business circles of Chicago. 

Isaac Anderson, born near New Providence, March 26, 1780, was the o'dest 
of the seven children of William Anderson. He was educated at Liberty Hall, 
studied theology under Samuel Brown, and in 1801 accompanied his father to 
East Tennessee, where he died January 28. 1857. Isaac Anderson was indefati- 
gable as a minister, teacher, and student. His most enduring monument is Mary- 
vilie College, the outcome of the log acadcmv he opened in 1802. This institu- 
tion has modern buildings on its campus of 250 acres, an enrollment of more than 
800 students, and is one of the few present day colleges where young men and 
women can be educated at a low cost. 

Archibald .Alexander, a founder of Union Theological Seminary, was one 
of the foremost theologians and theological educators of America. His son. Wil- 
liam C, was a lieutenant-governor of New Jersey, and was narrowly defeated in 
a contest for the governorship. F.ben. a son of Adam B. Alexander, professor of 
Greek in the TTni varsity of North Carolina, was United States Minister to Greece, 
Rumania, and Serbia. 

Simnn H. .Andereon, congressman, was a son of James and Margaret. 

John Bell, of Tennessee, senator, secretary of war. and in 1860 a candidate for 
the presidencv, was a son of Samuel and Margaret CEdmiston) Bell and was re- 
lated to the Bells of Augusta and Rockbridge. 


The biographers of Thomas 11. Benton assert that he was a native of North 
Carolina. On the contrary he was not only born on Walker's Creek but he was 
married in this county. Iknloii npriscnted Missouri thirty years in the I-'cdci. 
Senate. He was a statesman of the first rank and was the author of a valuable 
contribution to American history. 

Scions of the liowyer family are Rear-Admiral John M. Rowyer and Brevet 
Brigadier-General Eli Bowyer of Missouri. From George Poindcxtcr. who mar- 
ried Frances, a granddaughter of Michael, came Senator Poindextcr of the state 
of XN'ashington, who is also related to the Andersons. 

\N'iIIiam G. Brownlow, of East Tennessee, known in the civil war as "Par- 
son Brownlow." was a picturesque character, vitriolic in tongue and pen. At the 
outbreak of the war he was editor of the Knoxville JVhig. After its close he be- 
came governor of his state. lie was the oldest son of Joseph of Rockbridge. 

Mrs. Fannie K. Costello. a daughter of Porter Johnson and native of Rock- 
bridge, contributes poems and short stories to Harper's, the Century, and the 
Atlantic magazines, and to the Youth's Companion.. She is also the author of 
"The Beloved Son." published in 1916. 

Olive Til ford Dargan. one of the greatest literary women of the South, ap- 
pears to be descended from the Tilfnrds. of this county. 

John P. Davidson, who died at Riclinioiu! in I'^ll. was a specialist in dis- 
eases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat. 

James Gay. born in the Pastures, was the first man to import blooded cattle 
info Kentucky. His sister was the first white woman in I^xington. Kentuck-y. 

James Grigsby. who went to California in 1845 and was temporarily at the 
head of the Bear Creek revolt against the Mexican government, was a native of 
Tennessee, but apparently of Rockbridge descent. Hugh Blair Grigsby. son of 
Benjamin of this county, achieved a more than state-wide reputation as a scholarly 
educator and historian. 

Haysborough. six miles below Nashville. Tennessee, on the Cuniherlnnd Riv- 
er, was once a rival of that city. It was fo\mdcd by Colonel diaries Hays, and 
wjis the scat of Davidson College, which grew into Peabody Normal College. 

John A. T. Hull, eontrres«man from Iowa, is a grandson of John, who went 
from Rockbridge to Ohio in 1813. 

James Johnson was one of the thirteen children of James Johnston. Sr.. who 
married Margaret Bav in 1776. One of the wife's sisters first married James 
Gold, of Irxington. and later a Maxwell. She went with him to Kentucky. Rob- 
ert Johnston, son of James. Jr., was born on Buffalo Creek in 1818. He settled 
first at Garksburg, and finally at Harrisonburg, where he died in 1885. Mr. 
Jolinston was a lawyer of high repute, but was much in public life, serving in the 
Genrral .Asscmhlv. as Auditor of Virginia, and as a member of the Confederate 
Congres.^ throughout the war of 1861. 


The storage reservoirs now under construction in the Miami valley of Ohio 
form one of the greatest engineering enterprises ever undertaken in this country, 
and the master builder is Charles H. Locher, who was born at Balcony Falls. 

William Lindsay, a son of Andrew, left Rockbridge while a young man and 
began the practice of law at Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1858. He served four years 
in the Confederate army and was chosen state senator in 1867. For two years 
he was Chief Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals. From 1893 until 1901 
he was in the United States Senate. Judge Lindsay was a member both of the 
Columbian Exposition Commission and the Commisssion of the Louisiana Pur- 
chase Exposition. He declined an appointment to the Interstate Commerce Com- 
mission. His grandfather, James Lindsay, was born near Glasgow, Scotland. 

General John A. Logan, of the Federal army, and later a senator from Illinois 
and a candidate for the vice-presidency, was a descendant of Joseph D. Logan, 
whose wife was a descendant of Pocahontas. The general was noted for his 
Indian-like appearance. 

General George Mathews, twice governor of Georgia, was a gallant officer 
against the Indians and the British. 

General James H. McBride, of the Confederate army and a citizen of Mis- 
souri, was a grandson of William McBride, killed at the battle of Blue Lick, July 
19, 1782. The latter seems to be identical with William McBride, of Rockbridge. 

Daniel McCoy, Jr., of Ohio was in twenty-seven battles in the war of 1861 
and five times severely wounded. For gallant and meritorious conduct, particular- 
ly in the battle of Nashville, he rose from the rank of private to that of brigadier- 

Colonel James McDowell and his son. Governor James McDowell, are else- 
where mentioned. Among the descendants of their ancestor, John McDowell, 
were Irvin McDowell, David B. Birney, and John Buford, all of whom held high 
rank in the army of the Potomac. Brothers to Major-General Birney were James 
Birnev, acting-governor of Washington Territory, 1861-63, and Brigadier-Gen- 
eral William Birney. Humphrey Marshall, minister to China and brigadier-gen- 
eral in the Confederate service, was another descendant of Captain John Mc- 
Dowell, as was also the wife of General John C. Fremont. 

Michael Miley learned photography while a prisoner of war. His practical 
discoveries in color photography were in no sense dependent on those of the 
French investigators in this line. Miley maintained that there were only three 
primary colors. 

Maior-General Samuel F. Patterson, born at Brownsburg in 1799, went to 
North Carolina in 1814, and was fiftv years in public life in that state, some- 
times occupying high position. In 1833 he was Grand Master of the Masonic 

There is a strong probabilifv that the grandfather of James K. Polk was for 
a while a resident of the R.aphinr neighborhood. The names Poague and Polk are 


variants of Pollock. l-<.-oii:(Jas I'olk, liic bishop-gcncral of the Confederate army, 
was a kinsman to tlie president 

General Thomas Posey, senator from Louisana and in 1813 governor of In- 
diana Territory, was reared in tliis county and married into the Mathews family. 
I'oscy was the only man to whom George Washington ever gave a portrait of 
himself, or to whom he ever made a gift of realty. 

William H. Kuffner was the father of the free school law of Virginia. He 
was also the chief founder of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the Farm- 
viile State Normal College. 

John D. Sterrett was a metaphysician as well as farmer, and was the author 
of "The Power of Thought." John R. S. Sterrett, a professor in Cornell Uni- 
versity, was an eminent archeaologist in the Orient. 

General J. E. B. Stuart, a famous cavalry leader of the Confederate army, 
and Alexander H. II. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior, 1850-53, were of the 
Stuart connection of Rockbridge, and so is Henry C. Stuart, an ex-governor of 
this state. 

William Taylor, first missionary bishop of the Methodist Church, preached 
in more parts of the earth than any other man before his time. Of a different 
family was General Nathaniel Taylor, who left Rockbridge to become a wealthy 
planter and manufacturer of Carter county, Tennessee. Rol)crt L. Taylor and 
Alfred L. Taylor, the brothers who made a spectacular race for the governorship 
of that state in 1886, the one as a Democrat, the other .t< n Rcpuhlii-an. «(tc 
great grandsons of General Taylor. 

There have been many Trimbles in the medical and legal profession. John, 
the congressman, was the son of James, who left this county with his mother and 
step-father to settle at Nashville. 

"Pig Foot" Wallace, a picturesque character in Texas history, was born one 
mile frr^m Lexington. 

Captain Joseph R. Walker was a guide to Bonneville in 1831-36, ,ind after- 
ward to Fremont in their explorations in and beyond the Rocky Mountains. 

James Wil«nn. nifmher of Congress and minister to Venezuela, was a 
grandson to William McKec. John L. Wilson, a son, was United States sen.ntor 
from Washington. Hcnrv T.., another son. was ambassador to Mexico and min- 
ister to Cliili. Thomas Wilson, horn in Rockbridge in 1765. settled in Mnrgan- 
town, now in West Virginia, and took up the practice of law. In 1811 he was 
elected to Congress as a Federalist. 

Almost as this book is going to press, our attention is called to a notable 
coinridrnee. Tn the general election of I'^IS. \fedill ^fcCo^mtck. of Illinois, and 
E. J. Gay. of Louisiana, were chosen to the TTnited States Senate. Both these men 
are of Rockbridge anresfry. and both are members of millionaire families. The 
latter \% not the same as Congressman E. J. Gay. 



Early Life — His Ten Years at Lexington — Career as General — Burial and Monument — 

Personal Character 

In a four-roomed cottage, near the courthouse at Clarksburg, West Virginia, 
was born Thomas Jonathan Jackson. He was tiie only son of Jonathan Jackson, 
a law}-er, and he had but one sister. While yet a small boy he became an orphan, 
and he was reared chiefly by a half-brother to his father. 

At the age of sixteen he was made a constable, but when ordered to enforce 
an execution against a poor widow, he paid the claim out of his own pocket and 
resigned his office. Two years later, and very largely through his own efforts, he 
entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. To secure the ap- 
pointment he walked all the way from his home to the city of Washington. His 
educational preparation was deficient, yet by dint of hard, persistent study, he at- 
tained a very respectable rank in his class. He learned slowly, but never forgot, 
and would never give up an undertaking. From the Academy he passed to the 
Regular Army as a second lieutenant of artillery. He served in the war with 
Mexico, and by meritorious conduct rose to the rank of major by brevet. 

In May, 1851, Jackson applied for a position in the faculty of the Virginia 
Military Institute. He was chosen in preference to several competitors, and 
entered the school as instructor in the natural sciences, the theory of gunnery, 
and battalion drill. It was the most difficult chair in the Institute. Jackson had 
never before taught, and he was not naturally a teacher. Yet in this, as in all 
other places, he was conscientious in endeavoring to perform his duty. He 
had the highest respect of his fellow teachers, exerted much influence over the 
cadets, and expected to remain at this post the remainder of his life. 

Jackson was a resident of Lexington almost ten years. The house he 
lived in here was the only one he ever owned. During his occupancy it was a 
commodious stone cottage of eight rooms. In 1906 it was purchased for $2,000 
by the Mary C. Lee Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy. It was now 
converted into the Jackson Memorial Hospital, and as such it was opened June 
1, 1907. Jackson worked his garden himself and grew an ample supply of 
produce. He also farmed a tract of twenty acres that he purchased a little 
distance from the town. 

When the war of 1861 broke out. Major Jackson was little known in 
Virginia, and still less outside of the state. Except to a limited circle of 
acquaintances, he was an obscure, eccentric professor. But the governor of 


the State at this time was also a resident of Lexington, and he recognized that 
J was eminently a man for the occasion. He ordered Jackson to lead to 

i mJ such of the cadets as were likely to make good drillmastcrs for the 

raw recruits assembling at Camp Lee. Punctually at a set hour on April 21, 
1861, the march began. Jackson never again saw Lexington, and never for 
even a night was he absent from his command. 

From Richmond the as yet almost unknown man was soon sent to Harper's 
Ferry as a colonel of infantry. In June he took command of what was after- 
ward known as the Stonewall Brigade. This was a part of General Joseph E. 
Johnston's army in the Shenandoah \'allcy. His first engagement in the war 
took place July 2, 1861. It was the affair at Haines' Farm, or Falling Waters, 
on the south bank of the Ptitamac six miles north of Martinshurg. On this 
field Jackson had only about 400 men and one gun of the Kockbridgc Kattcry. 
The fight was in the nature of a reconnoisance. Jackson lost twenty-five men, 
but took forty-nine prisoners. 

Shortly afterward, Johnston led his army across the Blue Ridge to re-en- 
force Beauregard. It was on the momentous field of Manassas that the stead- 
iness of Jack.son's men gained for their leader the appellation of "Stonewall." 
Thenceforward, this adjunct name clung to him. The same month he was 
commissioned a brigadier-general. Early in October he was a major-general and 
was placed in command in the Shenandoah. Jackson was a man of few words, 
but in parting with the Stonewall Brigade he made a very earnest speech. 

L'ntil the following March there were no movements of nnich importance 
in his military department. It was not until the warm months of 1862 that 
Jarksf n really won his spurs. In March he lay in camp near Woodstock. He 
advanced with his 3000 men and fought 7000 Federals at Kernstown, a few 
miles southwest of Winchester. This battle was a defeat, and the only one that 
Jackson experienced. Yet the aud.icity of the attack was disconcerting to the 
authorities at Washington. It produced the very eflTect that Jackson desired. 

Greater events were soon to follow. At the opening of May. 19.000 Feder- 
als under Banks had occupied Harrisonburg. Fremont with 15,000 more was 

- ' • •' '• South Branch of the Potomac. Milroy and Schenk were 

any divide with 6.000 and were threatening Staunton. Jackson 
was at the south end of Massanutten Mountain with only 6,000 men under his 
i ■ ' . : .nd. Just across the Blue Ridge was Ewcll with 9.000. Edward 

J .'1 fallen back before Milroy, had 3,000. The odds apainsi 

Jackson were more than two to one with respect to numbers. 

It was now that he began to display a capacity for unexpectedly rapid march- 
ing gave his soldiers the name of "foot cavalry." Banks wished to join 
Milroy before Staunton, but was checkmated by Jackson, who was where he 


could speed down Luray valley and fall upon the Federal communications. 
Jackson took his column across the Blue Ridge and to the Virginia Central at 
Medium's River. He then hurried it to Staunton and picketed the roads 
leading toward Harrisonburg. Meanwhile, Ewell came over the mountain and 
occupied the abandoned camp. Jackson had slipped away from Banks and was 
now free to deal with Milroy. The battle of McDowell, May 8, compelled 
Milroy and Schenk to fall back upon Fremont's army for support, and they were 
pursued nearly to Franklin. The road running east from this town to Harrison- 
burg was so obstructed that Fremont was compelled to move much farther down 
the South Branch to find an open way to the Shenandoah valley. He did not 
reach Wardensville until the last day of the month. Jackson hurried back the 
way he had himself come. Banks had fallen back to Strasburg, placing, how- 
ever, a small detachment at Front Royal. His army had been depleted to 8,000 
men in order that a strong force might be assembled at Fredericksburg and 
march thence to the support of McClellan before Richmond. 

\\'ith 17,000 men Jackson swept down the Luray valley and made short 
work of the outpost at Front Royal. He was now as near to Winchester as was 
Banks, and there was a race for that point. By fighting a rear-guard action just 
beyond Winchester, the Federal general succeeded in taking the greater part of 
his army across the Potomac. Yet he lost 2,000 men as prisoners and so large 
quantities of supplies that he became known as "Jackson's commissary." Four 
days after the fight at Winchester, Jackson was at Halltown, only six miles from 
Harper's Ferry and within sixty miles of Washington. Jackson's aim was to 
relieve the pressure upon the main Confederate army at Richmond. The Feder- 
al administration fell into the trap set for it. McDowell was ordered to detach 
one-half of his 40,000 men and throw it in Jackson's rear. While this column 
was advancing from the east, Fremont was coming on from the west. But by 
superior speed Jackson escaped before the jaws of the trap could close upon 
him. At the south end of the Massanutten he turned upon his pursuers and 
defeated them separately, Fremont at Cross Keys and Shields at Port Republic. 
The Shenandoah was thus so nearly cleared of Federal troops that there was 
nothing to interfere with marching to the aid of Lee at Richmond. The Valley 
campaign of 1862 was a striking success, and it established Jackson's fame as a 
military leader. 

Jackson and his corps now became a part of the Army of Northern Virginia. 
In October of the same year the hero of the V'alley was advanced to the rank of 
lieutenant-general. After joining General Lee he figured prominently in the 
battles of the Peninsula and Fredericksburg, and with very special prominence 
at Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Chancellorsville. In the last named con- 
flict he was accidentally wounded in a volley fired by his own men. He was 


taken to a little house near Guinea Station, where he succumbed to pneumonia. 
May 10, 1863, at the age of thirty-nine. 

The remains of the general reached Lexington by packet-boat in the after- 
noon of May fourteenth, and lay in state next day in his lecture room, the casket 
being draped and also nearly hi<lden by a mass of floral offerings. The funeral 
was on Saturday, May 16th, and he was buried by the side of his first wife in 
the town cemetery. Lexington was temporarily in possession of Hunter in 
1864, and the report became current that the flag at the head of Jackson's grave 
was cut down by Federal soldiers. According to Colonel Schoonmakcr, who 
commanded a brigade under Hunter and visited Lexington forty years later, 
the circumstances were these, Three elderly men called at the colonel's head- 
quarters and asked permission to remove the flag. They said it had been left 
at the grave inadvertently, no disrespect being intended. The colonel said the 
fl.ig might remain in place until sunset. At that hour he rode to the cemetery 
with his staff, twelve soldiers, a bugler, and the three citizens. Flags of the 
Twelfth Pennsylvania and Fifth Massachusetts were set on opposite sides of 
the mound and three volleys were fired over it by way of military salute. The 
Confederate flag was then given to the three men. who seemed visibly affected. 

When the war closed there were only two dark boards at the grave, but 
next Y<'3r the plain slab was set up that may still be seen at the original 
grave. In July. 1891. a monument was unveiled in the presence of 10.000 peo- 
ple, among whom were the general's widow and many other distinguished 
guests. The orator of the day was General Jubal A. Early. There was music 
by the Stonewall Band, and a salute of fifteen guns was fired. The unveiling was 
by a golden haired granddaughter, four years of age. In P12 a statue, the gift 
of Sir Moses Ezckiel and Thomas F. Kyan. was unveiled at the \'irgiuia Military 

Stonewall Jackson was nearly six feet in height. His eyes were grey, his 
hair was light-brown, and during his campaigns he wore a long, full beard. His 
voice was soft, and in his personal relations with people he was kind and gentle. 
As a military leader he had an iron will .and an abounding firmness. His in- 
timates were few. He walked the streets of Lexington witli a methodical stride, 
looking neither to the right nor to the left. His customary air was a dignified 
reserve and he was lacking in a sense of humor. He had no use for liquor or 
tob.-icco, saving of the former that he was more afraid of it than of Fcdml 
bullets One «.f his mottoes was. "Never take counsel of your fears." IHs de- 
cisiveness of character is shown in his response to an urgent request to speak 
in the l-VanK'.in Society, of which he was a member. The occasion was in Feb- 
ruary, IWl, "hiring a political debate. His reply was as follows: "Mr. Presi- 
dait, I have learned from Old Hickory when I m.ake up my mind never to do a 


thing, never lo do it. I made up my mind before coming here not to make a 
speech, .nnd 1 don't intend to do it." 

Jackson was ever a close student of mihtary science. A townsman remark- 
ed of him that he was "as exact as the multiplication table, and as full of things 
military as an arsenal." His successes were gained by the insight that goes with 
the professional soldier, by the energy that is a part of the born leader, and by 
unusual ninibleness in the conduct of a march. He insisted on discipline, and 
the topography of the Valley of Virginia was an open book to him. His 
achievements caused him to be idolized by his soldiers and have given him a 
high place in the military science. 

Stonewall Jackson was a deacon in the Presbyterian church at Lexington, 
and attended to his religious duties with his customary punctuality and con- 
scientiousness. He sought to make all the acts of his daily life conform to his 
conception of Christianity. In giving a tenth of his income to the support of 
the Church he followed literally the Biblical rule. The church building has been 
remodeled since his day, but the position of his pew is indicated by a tablet. 

Jackson's concern in the moral betterment of the negroes led him to open 
a Sunday school for them in 1855. It met in the afternoon and he himself open- 
ed each session with prayer. His absence in the army and his death did not halt 
the work thus begun, and the outcome was a stalwart church organization. The 
morning after the first battle of Manassas although inconvenienced by a wound 
in his hand, he punctiliously took time to send his pastor $50 to be used for 
his Sunday school. Jackson's name is revered by the colored people of Lexing- 

The first wife of Jackson was Eleanor Junkin, daughter of a president 
of Washington College. The second was Mary A., a daughter of the Reverend 
Eobcrt H. Morrison of North Carolina. Their daughter Julia was born in war- 
time, November 23, 1862, married William E. Christian, and died of typhoid 
fever in 1889, leaving two children, Julia J., wife of Edmund R. Preston, and 
Thomas J., an officer in the army of the United States. Wife and daughter 
were with the general when lie died. 



The Fathoi or Gknexai. Li;e— Early Life of Robfjit E. Lee— Lee as a Confedeiati 

Genual — His I'stsiUEScv of Washington Coluxe — Closing 

Days— His Personality 

It is necessary to begin the present chapter with some mention of the father 
of Robert E. Lee. Henry Lcc, whose own father was a first cousin to Ricliard 
Ilcnry Lee, a celebrated statesman of tlie Revolutionary period, was a graduate 
of Princeton College, and he intended to enter the legal profession. The war 
for Independence breaking out before he had reached his majority, he became 
an officer in Washington's army. When twenty-two years of age, he was put af 
the head of a band that became famous as "Lee's Legion." For his exploit 
on the present site of Jersey City, where he took 160 prisoners with the loss 
of scarcely a man, he was given a gold medal. At the close of 1780, when he 
had attained the rank of lieiitenant-colonel and when the American cause looked 
dark, he led his legion, 300 strong and composed of both cavalry and infantry, 
to join General Greene in the South. During the campaign of 1781 his services 
were invaluable. In 1791 he was chosen governor of his state, and a county 
was named for him. In 1794 he was commander of the army of 15,000 sent 
to put down the Whiskey Insurrection. Four years later, when war with France 
seemed imminent, he was advanced to the rank of major-general. While serving 
in Congress, he delivered the address on Washington that contains the well- 
known phrase, "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his country- 
men." During the war of 1812 he was severely injured in Baltimore while 
defending an editor-friend from a mob. From this hurt there was no full re- 
covery. In the hope of benefit he visited the West Indies, but growing worse, 
he a'-ki-d to be jjut ashore at Cumberland Island. Georgia, so that he might die 
at the home of his late commander-in-chief. He was ho.';pitably received by the 
widow of General Greene, and ended his days in her house, three weeks later, 
at the age of sixty-two. This event took place March 25, 1818. Pursuant to .m 
Act of the General Assembly, the remains were removed to Lexington in 191.^ 
to rest by the side of those of his still more distinguished son. The Honorable 
Hugh A. White, of IxxinRlon. was chairman of the legislative committee that 
personally superintended the removal. 

General Ixc was almost a neighbor to General Washington, and enjoyed 
his confidence and esteem. As an alumnus of Princeton he was brought into 
close acquaintance with the founders of Liberty Ilall. When Washington was 


Studying what to do with the canal stock donated him by the state of Virginia, 
Lee was instrumental in directing his attention to the struggling academy. Lee 
sent his fourth child, Henry Lee, Jr., to study at Lexington, and the son was 
one of the early graduates of Liberty Hall. He died in France in 1837 at the age 
of fifty. He was able and well-informed, and was the author of several books. 
But the father himself owned land in Rockbridge and spent some of his time 
here. Lee was a planter, the tidewater soil was growing poor, and the unsettled 
period lasting from the beginning of the Revolution to the close of the war 
of 1812 was not conducive to material prosperity. Like many other men of 
his class, Lee was in debt, but it is alleged that he did not allow such a matter 
to engross his thoughts. Several anecdotes along this line are told of him. One 
of these is to the effect that a Rockbridge creditor needed his money, became 
impatient, and went with a constable to the general's home in Arnold's Valley. 
Light-Horse Harry, by which name he was familiarly known, was at home, and 
the callers had a delightful social hour. They left without saying a word about 
the writ, and the creditor was indifferent as to whether he should get his pay 
or not. The general's attitude might be styled an instance of unconscious and 
unpremeditated diplomacy. 

Robert Edward Lee was born at Stratford, his father's manor-house in 
Westmoreland county, the date of his birth being January 19, 1807. He was the 
youngest of the sons of Light-Horse Harry, and his mother was a second wife. 
He passed through West Point without a demerit, graduating in 1829 at the 
head of his class. His first service was in the Engineer Corps of the army of 
the United States. He entered the war with Mexico as a captain, and won such 
distinction under General Scott as to attain the rank of colonel at the close. In 
1852-5, he was superintendent of West Point. He remained with the regular 
army until the spring of 1861, spending only portions of his time at Arlington, 
the estate near the city of Washington which was inherited by his wife, Mary 
Custis, a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington by her first husband. It 
was during a leave of absence that he was put in charge of the Federal troops 
sent to deal with John Brown at Harper's Ferry. 

In the opening months of 1861 Lee was again at home at Arlington. He was 
now fifty-four years of age and in the full maturity of his powers. General 
Scott loved him as a son, and not only had the highest opinion of his military 
skill, but predicted that Lee would greatly distinguish himself if circumstances 
should ever place him at the head of an army. It was because of this reputation 
that he was offered the command of the field army that was to invade the South. 
Lee was very much opposed to secession. As to slavery, he said that if he were 
to own all the slaves in the United States he would set them free as a means of 
preserving the Union. The political storm that was now breaking caused him 


great distress of mind. A Union that could not be vindicated except by an ap- 
peal to force was repugnant to him as it was to all others nurtured in the 
same school of political thought. He believed that when the Lincoln administra- 
tion adopted a coercive policy, the Union of 1788 was virtually dissolved, and 
that each of the competent states was at liberty to shift for itself. looking at the 
situation in this light, he conceived that his first duty was to serve his native state, 
wliich from 1775 to 1788 had enjoyed a career practically independent. He 
therefore resigned his commission in the army. That he was entirely conscien- 
tious in this step is now conceded gy all students of American history. He de- 
cided his problem for himself and without attempting to influence even his sons. 

Going to Richmond, Lee was made a major-general of the X'irginia troops. 
The last day of August he was advanced to the rank of full general in the 
Confederate service. In September he was in command on the Greenbrier. His 
operations in this quarter were inconclusive and of short duration. The fol- 
lowing winter he was in charge of the engineering details of the defense of 
the Atlantic coast, particularly in South Carolina. This work was so well done 
that Charleston was not occupied by the Federals until flanked by Sherman's 
army in the closing months of the war. In the spring of 1862, Lee was called to 
Richmond to act as military advisor to the Confederate president. When General 
Joseph E. Johnston was wounded at Seven Pines, May 31st, Lee was appointed 
to succeed him. Lee was now in his element, and for almost three years he 
remained at the head of the army of Northern Virginia. The story of that 
superb organization is almost the story of the war itself. It was the spearhead 
and most successful factor of the Southern resistance. The great battles of the 
Peninsula, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg. Fredericksburg, Chanccllorsville, Get- 
tysburg, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, the siege of Petersburg, 
and the campaign of maneuver against Meade in 1863 were all fought under the 
immediate direction of Lee. Sharpsburg was a drawn battle, and Gettysburg 
a reverse, but neither of these actions took place on the soil of Lee's native state. 
Worn down by relentless attrition and cut ofl from its supplies, the army of 
Northern Virginia gave up the struggle at Appomattox, April 9, 1865. A few 
more weeks and the Southern Confederacy ceased to exist. 

I^c's home had In-cn appropriated by the Federal authorities. The summer 
of 1865 found the great Confederate chieftain living quietly on a plontation in 
Powhatan county. He turned down all inducements to begin a career in Europe, 
believing it his duty to remain with his own people ,ind share their fortunes. 
Neither would he listen to any overture which had no other primary object than 
the capitalizing of his name. Yet some mode of breadwinning was necessary. 

At a meeting of the trustees of Washington College. hc!d August 4, 1865, 
Bolivar Cliristian nominated General Lee as its president. It is said that when 


J. W. Brockenbrough was selected to carry the offer of the trustees to the 
general, he declined on the ground that neither he himself nor the college had 
any money for the traveling expenses, and furthermore, that his clothes were 
not good enough. But the necessary money was raised and a friend loaned 
a new suit. Lee accepted the proffered office August 24th, stipulating that 
his duties were to be executive only, and that he was not to be asked to give 
classroom instruction. The following month he came to Lexington, riding his 
famous battle-horse, Traveler, and was quietly inaugurated October 2nd. During 
the five years that covered the final chapter of his life. General Lee was president 
of Washington College and a resident of Lexington. His salary was $L500 and 
a cottage was built for himself and family. 

The fortune sof the college were at this time at a low ebb. The building 
had been partially looted and the grounds were in disorder. The small endow- 
ment was unproductive, and the fifty students who presented themselves were 
wholly from Lexington and the country around. The magic of Lee's name, 
coupled with the allection in which he was held, would alone have swelled the 
student body to a goodly size and lent a great measure of success to his adminis- 

But Robert E. Lee was not the man to treat his office as a sinecure. A col- 
lege presidency seems a far remove from the leadership of a great army. Yet 
it was in the educational field that Lee felt that he could be most useful to his 
people. The day of warfare was past. A period of transition had come to the 
South. The great present need of the time was constructive work, and nowhere 
was this more applicable than to the young men of student age. Lee applied 
himself to his new sphere with assiduous diligence. He had been a soldier by 
profession, but he was also a man of sound scholarship. His eye was every- 
where. His system of reports, instituted by himself and almost military in its 
exactness, caused his spirit and his influence to pervade every department. In 
this way he kept himself informed of the progress and standing of every stu- 
dent. In administering reproof he was firm, yet gentle and fatherly. Under his 
executive skill, the attendance rapidly increased, the school prospered, and im- 
provements were made in the college property. One of his earlist tasks was to 
build the chapel, in the basement of which was his office. This room is kept as 
nearly as possible in the same condition as when he last used it. 

In the third year of the war General Lee had a severe attack of laryngitis, 
followed by a rheumatic periodical inflammation. For some time he could not 
exercise on foot or ride fact without being inconvenienced by a pain in the chest 
or by difficult breathing. There was gradual improvement, although he continued 
to have occasional attacks of muscular rheumatism. In the winter o 1869-70, his 
health began sensibly to fail, and in the spring he visited Georgia. There was 


some relief, but not for long. His final illness, which seized him as he was about 
to say grace at his dinner table, was a passive congestion of the brain resembling 
concussion, but without paralysis. After lying unconscious several days he died 
October 12, 1870. Interment was in the mausoleum under the college chapel, 
in which other members of the Lee family now lie. June 24. 1883, a recumbent 
statue was placed in the chapel in the rear of the platform and within view of the 

Robert E. Lee was six feet tall, faultless in figure, and unusually handsome 
in feature. His coal-black hair became very grey during the progress of the war. 
Until his second campaign he wore no beard except a mustache, but afterward 
his face was unshaven. An aged resident of this county speaks of his countenance 
as noble and benignant, and not suggestive of the warrior. Yet he had temi)er, as 
was shown in the case of the dispatch that was dropped in a street of Frederick 
and fell into the hands of McCIellan. He avoided all display and ostentation, 
and set before young men an example of simple habits, manners, needs, words, 
and duties. He wrote his daughters that "gentility, as well as self-respect, re- 
quires moderation in dress and gaycty." The most distinguishing feature of 
his educational career was the moral influence he exerted on the student lK)dy. 
He abstained from the use of both liquor and tobacco. At Lexington he led a 
retired life, and did not mingle in society. His pastime was to ride about the 
country. He once remarked that "Traveler is my only companion. He and I 
wander out into the mountains and enjoy sweet confidence." In these expeditions 
he did not go inside the farm homes, but as he was very fond of buttermilk he 
often called at them for a glass. 

Students of military science give Lee a very high place among the great 
generals of the world. His personal influence over his men was most unusual. 
He was always daring, and if he sometimes took great risks, it was because he 
had taken the measure of the commander opposed to him. His usual tactics were 
the ofl^ensive-defensive, in which a stand technically defensive is converted at an 
opportune moment into an energetic offensive. He intended to write the history 
of his campaigns, ami collecte<l some material for this purpose. Yet he never 
carried out the plan, thinking he would cause pain by presenting his narrative 
before there had been time for much abatement in sectional feeling. His advice 
to his people of the .South was to use silence and patience: to "avoid controversy, 
allay passion, and give scojk: to every kindly feeling." 

There has long been general agreement respecting the spotless private charac- 
ter of Lee, the purity of his motives, his earnest Clirislianity. and the good faith 
with which h accepted the downfall of the Confederate cause. Some words he 
wrote on hearing of the assassination of Lincoln are touching in their mag- 
nanimity and in their accurate appreciation of the kindly qualities of the president. 


They also convey his abhorrence of the crime. His tolerant spirit is further 
shown in his opinion that the Democrats sliould have nominated Chase in 1868, 
ahhough Chase had been a member of Lincoln's cabinet. 

The centennial of Lee's birth was observed at Washington and Lee Univer- 
sity, June 19, 1907. The central feature was the address by General Charles 
Francis Adams, a grandson of John Quincy Adams. Adams was seventy-two 
years of age, had fought in the Federal army, and was a scholar as well as a 
man of affairs. His sketching of Lee as eminently a man of character was an 
amplification of these words of Thomas Carlyle : "Show me the man you honor; 
I know by that what sort of man you yourself are. For you show me then what 
your ideal of manhood is." A letter from President Roosevelt was read, the 
writer having already stated his belief that Lee was the foremost general that 
America has produced. At the luncheon t othe Confedrate veterans, there were 
toasts to Lee, the Union army, and the Confederate soldier. 

The children of General Lee were seven. Three sons served in the Con- 
federate army, two of them attaining the rank of major-general. 




Alexander. Archibald, Robert, and William, sons of William Alexander, 
Sr., came from near Londonderry, in 1737, and lived about ten years near Phila- 
delphia. The brothers were well-to-do for those days, and were men of char- 
acter, education, and influence. Robert, a Master of Arts of the University of 
Dublin, founded the school which finally grew into Washington and Lee Uni- 
versity, but was himself a resident of Beverly Manor. Archibald removed in 
1747 from the bank of the Schuylkill and settled on Suulh River nearly oppo- 
site the mouth of Irish Creek. His son, William, born on the Schulykill, set- 
tled about 1775 at the mouth of Woods Creek, and there opened the store 
which he seems to have conducted until his death in 1797. He also established 
the first school to be taught within the present confines of Lexington, making one 
of his own man-servants the teacher. 

As a captain of rangers, "Old Arsbel" had a share in the Big Sandy expe- 
dition of 1757. Under orders from the governor of the colony, Andrew Lewis 
led an expedition against the Indian towns on the Scioto, but did not cross 
the Ohio, and his men sufTcrcd terrible hardships from inclement weather and 
inadequate rations. 

A daughter of William Alexander married Edward Graham of the faculty 
of Liberty Hall Academy, and another married Samuel L. Campbell, the first 
resident physician of Rockbridge. Archibald, still another of the eight children 
was born in a house of squared logs on the family homestead on South River. 
His schooldays began in the log structure his father had built on Woods Creek, 
and were continued at Liberty Hall. Coming under the influence of the Great 
Revival of 1739, he resolved to become a Prcsbj-tcrian minister, and was 
licensed in 1791. For several years he was engaged in itinerant work, and there- 
by acquired a remarkable facility in offhand speaking. With a brief intermission 
he was president of Hampden-Sidney College from 17% until 1807, and then 
became pastor of Pine Street Qiurch, Philadelphia. In 1812, he was made first 
professor in the Princeton Theological Seminary of New Jersey. The title of 
Doctor of Divinity had already been conferred upon him by the College of New 
Jersey. The school had just been opened and Doctor Alexander had taken a 
very .icfive part in its est.iblishmcnt. He remained at Princeton until his death. 
Octol)er 22, 1851, at the age of seventy-nine. Like his father he was short and 
compact in stature, and he had brown hair and hazel eyes. His memory was 
remarkable, and he was a delightful companion. As a pulpit orator he was un- 


rivalled. As a writer on theological subjects he was quite prolific, his principal 
works being these: "A life of John Knox," "The Way of Salvation," "A 
History of the Israelitish Nation," "An Outline of Moral Science," "A Brief 
Outline of the Evidences of the Christian Religion," "The Canon of the Old 
and New Testaments Ascertained," "Biographical Sketches of the Founder 
and Principal Alumni of the Log College," "A Selection of Hymns," "Practical 

In 1802 Doctor Alexander was married to Janetta, a daughter of James 
Waddell, a blind minister who lived some years in Augusta, and whose elo- 
quence was highly extolled by William Wirt. His sons, Joseph A. and James 
W. were also eminent as ministers, writers, and teachers of Theology. The 
former was an eloquent orator and remarkable linguist. The latter was at the 
time of his death in 1859 pastor of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in the 
city of New York. 

Anderson. Francis T. Anderson was unrelated to the Anderson connect- 
ion of Rockbridge, He was a son of Colonel Thomas Anderson of Botetourt, 
and was born in 1808 at Walnut Hill, the family homestead. His mother, Mary 
A. Alexander, was a sister to Doctor Archibald Alexander, of Princeton. The 
son was educated at Washington College and was admitted to the bar in 1830. 
He practiced the legal profession with great success, was many years a mem- 
ber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, and upon his death in 1887, the Bar of the 
State and the Supreme Court remembered him with eulogistic resolutions. Mr. 
Anderson was a leader of the Whig party of Virginia, a rector of Washington 
and Lee University, and a ruling elder of the Presbyterian Church. He removed 
from Botetourt to Lexington, but lived some years on his large estate of Glen- 
wood, his home then being near Natural Bridge. He was a brother of General 
Joseph R. Anderson and Colonel John T. Anderson of the Confederate army. 
His children who grew to adult age are Anna A., wife of William F. Junkin; 
Mary E., wife of Alexander Bruce, of Halifax county; Frances M., of Washing- 
ton, D. C. ; Josephine A., wife of William B. Poindexter; William A.; Isabella 
G., wife of William B. Bruce; and Francis T., whose wife is Rosa Bruce, of Hal- 
ifax county. 

William A. Anderson, son of Francis T., Sr., was bom May 11, 1842, and 
is the senior member of the Rockbridge bar. He has been Attorney General for 
his state and has twice represented his county in the Assembly. Major Ander- 
son, who was made a cripple for life at First Manassas, is a Virginia gentleman 
of the old school and his courtesy is unfailing. He has been twice married; first 
to Ellen G., daughter of General Joseph R. Anderson, and second, to Mary L. 
Blair. His children are Ruth P., Anna A., William D. A., Judith N., and Ellen 
G. Besides being active in his chosen profession. Major .Anderson has been a 
leader in the industrial development of Rockbridge 


Baldwin. John C. Baldwin was a son of Cornelius C. Baldwin of Balcony 
Falls, one of the original secessionists of 1860-61. The son, who died unmar- 
ried in 1881, at the early ape of thirty-four, deserves mention for his assidious 
and succesful efforts to educate himself. His iKwk studies hegan when he was 
seven years old. He look up Latin at sixteen and became able to read it al- 
most as readily as Shakespeare. He also studied Greek and French, the mathe- 
matics, and several branches of the sciences. Perhaps he was the only boy in 
Virginia who made him.self by solitary endeavor a fine classical and English 
scholar, a good writer, and one of the l)est informed country gentlemen in the 
state. Mr. Baldwin was retiring, fond of home, devoted to a simple life, and 
he enjoyed the society of his few intimate friends. He adopted as his own 
this motto by Bishop Berkeley: "I had rather be master of my time than wear a 

Joseph G. Baldwin, tiie brilliant author of "I'lush Times in Alabama," is 
said to have been related to the Baldwins of Rockbridge. 

Barclay. Elihu H. Barclay, almost thirty years a force in Rexrkbridgc 
journalism, was a member df an old and prominent family. He was a son of 
Alexander T. Barclay and his third wife. Mary E. (Taxton) Barclay. The father 
was a son of Elihu Barclay, who married Sarah Telford. Elihu H. purchased the 
Rockbridge Citizen in 1873, when he was twenty-seven years old. Next year 
he acquired the Gazette, which he conducted until his death in 1902. The maiden 
name of his wife was Margaret S. Rowan. 

Baxter. The Reverend George A. Baxter, whose name is long and honor- 
orably identified with what is now the Washington and Lee L^niversity. was 
born in Rockbridge in 1771. From New London Academy he came to Lexing- 
ton in 1798 to fill the chair of mathematics at Liberty Hall. A year later he be- 
came rector of the academy. Two very prominent events are associated with 
his administration. The school was moved from Mulberry Hill to Lexington, 
and it was advanced from the rank of academy to that of college. As rector, 
and later as president, the income of Doctor Baxter was small, and he supple- 
mented it with active laljor in the Prrsbyterian ministry. He is renieml>ered in 
our local annals as a faithful and conscientious educator and as a preacher of 
power and efTectiveness. His wife was Anna C, a daughter of Colonel William 
Fleming. Their son. Sidney S., was likewise an educator of note. 

Brockenbrough. John W. Brockenbrough was a native of Hanover county. 
where he was bom December 2.1, 1806. After graduating from the University of 
Virginia he entrred the legal profession, in which he Ixjcame very eminent. 
From 1846 until 18^(0 he was jtulgc of the United St.itcs Court for the Western 
District of Virginia, and in this capacity none of his decisions was ever reversed. 



In the crisis of 1860-61, he was a secessionist, and was defeated as a candidate 
for the State Convention of 1861. He represented Virginia in the futile Peace 
Conference which sought to avert the calamity of war. He also served a term 
in the Confederate Congress. In 1849 Judge Brokenbrough had opened at 
Lexington a school of law, and when General Robert E. Lee came here as a col- 
lege president, he became the head of the newly created law school in Washing- 
ton College. Judge Brockenbrough was a man of very estimable qualities. He 
died in Lexington, February 21, 1877. 

Brown. John Brown, the first resident minister in Rockbridge, came in 
1753 in response to a call signed by a great number of his future parishioners. 
He was then but twenty-five years of age. He was pastor at Timber Ridge 
and New Providence until 1767, and served New Providence twenty-eight years 
longer. In Kentucky, to which state he removed in 1797, he was pastor of 
Woodford church. He died there in 1803, and his grave lies between those of 
two men who had been his elders at New Providence. During his early years in 
Rockbridge, his salary was but little more than $200. It is related of him that 
he used to walk around the New Providence church with head uncovered and Bi- 
ble in hand, and pray for the various families. He left Timber Ridge some- 
what abruptly, and in consequence of a slight which seems to have been quite 
unpremeditated, although his sensative nature did not permit him to excuse it. 
In 1755 he purchased a farm, the position of which is on the line of the Valley 
Railroad and a little north of Fairfield. Between the resignation of Robert 
Alexander in 1753 and the coming of William Graham in 1774, Mr. Brown 
taught the classical school begun by the former. His wife was Margaret, a 
sister of Colonel William Preston. The careers of several of the children re- 
flect the substantial quality of their parentage. John, Jr., was a member of the 
First Congress, Samuel was a professor in Transylvania University, James was 
a United States senator from Louisana and minister to France, and William was 
a physician of South Carolina. The daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, married, 
respectively, the Reverend Thomas B. Craighead and Doctor Alexander Hum- 
phreys. Samuel, who died in 1830 at the age of seventy-one, took the degree 
of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Aberdeen. He then entered upon 
an eminent career as physician and chemist. At Lexington, Ky., he organized 
a medical society which is said to have been a pattern in constitution and in 
ethics to all such American societies of later date. 

The Samuel Brown who came to New Providence as its pastor in 1796 was 
not related to John Brown. He was a native of the east of Virginia. In 1789, 
when twenty-three years old, he went to Kentucky with some friends. The jour- 
ney was made on foot as far as Kanawha Falls, and by a dugout canoe the rest 
of the distance. After teaching a year at Paris he returned, and was licensed 


as a minister in 1793. His salary at New Providence was $400. Mr. Brown 
was feeble in constitution, yet in addition to ministerial effort he taught a clas- 
sical school, and among his divinity students were several who attained dis- 
tinction. He owned and lived on a farm two miles north of Brownsburg. In 
1816 he went West with a view of locating, and for $1C00 was offered a tract 
of land within the present limits of the city of St. Louis. Yet he turned down 
the offer, deciding that his family would be better off in the West only in a ma- 
terial point of view. He died two years atter his visit to Missouri. In 1798 
Mr. Brown was married to Mary Moore of Abb's \*allcy. some account of 
whose captivity is given in Chapter \'III. She was an affectionate wife and lov- 
ing parent. The pair had eleven children, the difference in age between the old- 
est and the youngest being seventeen years. Seven sons and three daughters 
grew to maturity. Six of the former were Bachelors of Arts of Washington 
College, three of them graduating in the same class. In 1918 a reunion of the 
descendants of Mary Moore Brown were held at New Providence, the wife of 
its present pastor being one of them. 

Campbell. One of the very oldest and most numerous of the group-famil- 
ies of Rockbridge is that of the Campbells. It includes a considerable number 
of persons who have attained some degree of prominence. Samuel R. Campbell, 
a son of Alexander, was born between Brownsburg and Fairfield in 1766 and 
died at his country home. Rock Castle, in 1840. He was a graduate of Liberty 
Hall Academy in 1788 and studied medicine at Philadelphia. His medical 
practice was large, and he was much respected in his profession. Yet he found 
time to bring his strong civic spirit into play. He was a firm friend to Wash- 
ington College and he took a leading part in establishing the Franklin Society. 
Doctor Campbell was a witty, cultured gentleman and good writer. In his 
later years he lost his eyesight, although he continued to ride the highways, 
humorously cautioning those he met to look out or he would ride over them. It 
was he who built the Stone Rock Castle which was burned. In 1794 he was 
married to Sarah, a sister to Doctor Archibald Alexander. His four sons 
were graduates of Washington College. All went West and all became eminent. 
His daughter. Sophia, married Robert McCluer in 1816. The other daughters 
married John S. Wilson and the Reverend Nathaniel C. Calhoun. Two of the 
three husbands were also graduates of Washington College 

Carulhfrs. The Caruthers name was once very conspicuous, but has long 
been extinct. The male members were residents of l^xington or its vicinity 
and were much inclined to commercial pursuits. Isaac migrated to Monroe, 
married there, and was one of the proprietors of Salt Sulphur Springs. Yet a 
literar>' vein was present in the family, as is indicated by the very active part 
taken by it in founding the Franklin Society and Ann Smith Academy. In 



William A. Caruthers this trait had a special development. He was educated 
at Washington College, and though he went into the medical profession, he was 
a prolific writer of historical romances and a frequent contributor to the mag- 
azines. His literary work is full of spirit and animation. He was the author 
of "Knights of the Horseshoe," a work of fiction founded on Spottswood's ex- 
pedition to the Shenandoah Valley in 1716. In 1838 Doctor Caruthers wrote a 
vivid account of a hazardous ascent of the Natural Bridge. He died at Sa- 
vannah, Ga., about 1850, and at the age of about fifty-five years. 

Davidson. Andrew B. Davidson, a native of Botetourt, does not seem 
to have been of the Kerr's Creek connection or of the family that migrated to 
Ohio from the lower course of North River. He was born in 1779 and died in 
1861, spending all but the earliest years of his life at Lexington. He was 
graduated from Liberty Hall Academy in 1807, and was licensed as a minister 
the same year. In the same year, also, he was married to Susan Dorman, ap- 
parently a sister to Charles P. Dorman. In 1814 he returned to Lexington as 
a pastor, and was a principal of Ann Smith Academy. All his four sons were 
alumni of Washington College. General Alexander H. became a resident of 
Indiana. Charles B. was an Episcopal clerg\'man. James D. and Henry G. re- 
mained in this county, the former being a lawyer and the latter a physician. 

Dorman. The Dormans have been very few in number, yet influential. 
Charles P. Dorman, a lawyer and editor, was in the Virginia Assembly thirteen 
years and was an adjutant in the war of 1812. His son James B., born 1825 
died 1893, graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1843 and became 
an attorney. The war with Mexico aroused his spirit of adventure, and he 
served as sergeant-major in the Texas Rangers of Colonel Wood. He was pres- 
ent at the capture of Monterey. Returning to Lexington, he was sent in 1861 
to the State Convention as a Union man. After war came on he went into the 
Confederate army as a major in tiie 9th Virginia Infantry. Major Dorman was 
a fluent speaker and a man of unusual ability. He had strong literary tastes 
and was a master of the English language, whether written or spoken. He was 
married in 1871 to Mrs. Mary L. White Newman. During the last ten years of 
his life he was Qerk of the Supreme Court of Appeals and lived in Staunton. 

Dunlap. Alexander Dunlap, the first settler on the Calfpasture and first 
owner of the site of Goshen, died in 1744. leaving four children, John, Robert, 
Alexander, and Elizabeth. 

In 1776 John Dunlap visited Ohio on a prospecting tour, and acquired 
7,000 acres in Ross county, the smaller of the two tracts including the old 
Shawnee town of Chillicothe. He also secured 1436 acres in Kentucky, but was 
furthermore the largest landholder in Rockbridge. He was married to Ann 
Clark, who was related to General George Rogers Qark, the "Hannibal of the 


West," and his brother, Colonel William Clark of the famous I^wis and Clark 
expedition. Both these celebrities made visits to the Dunlaps. The family 
home was a large three-story brick mansion, built soon after the Revolution and 
on the site of the X'ictoria furnace near Goshen. Tlic house was torn down 
many years ago. The only member of this Dunlap family to stay in Rock- 
bridge was James. 

Robert, second son of the pioneer, fought at Point I'lcasanl and was an 
ensign in the battle of Guilford, where he was killed. It is said he refused to 
obey an order to retreat. He owned Aspen Grove and one other plantation in 
Rockbridge. His widow married James Courscy. Of the seven children of 
Robert Dunlap, Alexander settled in Monroe and Rolxirt and John in Augusta. 
Anne and Margaret went with their husbands to Kentucky and Missouri, re- 
spectively. Only William and Agnes remained in this county, but the children of 
William went to Missouri. Robert, Jr., organized the first temperance society 
in the Valley of Virginia. William, Jr.. a son of William, was one of the first 
men to explore Kansas. A grandson of William, Jr.. is I^outwell Dunlap, of 
San Francisco, a lawyer and historian and formerly consul for Argentina. He 
is the author of a valuable contribution to American history : "Augusta County 
in the History of the United States." Among the progeny in the female line, 
in this family of the Dunlaps, are the Reverncd O. K. Brown, of N'anderbilt 
University, church historian, and the Reverend W. M. Morrison, the missionary 
to Africa, whose exposure of the atrocities on the Congo roused the govern- 
ment of the United States and Europe to take action against the king of the 

Alexander Dunlap, Jr., went in early life to Kentucky, and later to Brown 
county. Ohio, where he built one of the very first Iwuses of worship in that 
stale of the Discijjles communion. 

The four Dunlaps, Samuel, David, Robert, and John, who purchased land 
in the Borden Tract are believed to have bet-n related to Alexander of the Calf- 
pasture. They seem to have moved to the Carolinas. 

John Dunlap came from Campbclltown, Scotland, in 1775, and settled at 
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Robert, one of his seven children, was born just 
before the family came to America, and located near Middlebrook in Au- 
gusta. Madison Dunlap, his son, came to Kerr's Creek alwut 1830. John Dun- 
lap was grandfather to Major-General John D. Stevenson, of the United States 
army. He was great granrlfather to Brigadier-General Robert \. Getty, of the 
same army, atui to John R. S. Sterrelt, the Greek scholar and archaeologist. 

Few families in the South can surpass the Dunlaps of Rockbridge in ex- 
hi!)iling -in many members who have been large landowners, or have been con- 
spicuous in public, professional, or military life. The Dunlaps dispute with 



one other Rockbridge connection the honor of furnishing the most ministers 
to the Southern Presbyterian Church. 

Echols. Captain Edward Echols, who Hved at the mouth of North River, 
was a brother to General John Echols, of the Confederate army, and conse- 
quently an uncle to the late Edward Echols, of Staunton. He was a citizen of con- 
siderable local prominence, and died in 1874 at the age of fifty-seven. An inci- 
dent in his career illustrates his unselfishness and his generous impulse. It also 
brought suddenly to the front an unexpected power of vivid narration. The 
account of the incident which has been furnished to us we quote entire. 

In January, 1854, a large covered freight boat with a cargo of nearly 100 negro men 
who had been hired in the vicinity of Richmond to work in the furnaces above Buchanan 
was swept over the dam on James River at Balcony Falls, in consequence of the breaking 
of the tow-line, as the boat was struggling across the mouth of North River then swollen 
by a heavy freshet. Most of the negroes as soon as the boat began to drift down the 
stream plunged into the river and swam to the bank. About a dozen of them who prob- 
ably could not swim stuck to the boat and were dashed over the dam into the boiling and 
foaming whirlpool below. The boat was broken into fragments, and half the men drown- 
ed. The others clung to a fragment of the wreck and were drifted down the surging and 
roaring torrent about a mile and a half, until they struck a large rock called the "Velvet 
Rock," from the carpet of soft green moss which covered it, when they jumped off and 
after much scrambling secured a precarious foothold on the narrow surface of the wet 
and slippery stone. One of these men was William G. Mathews, uncle to William G. 
Mathews of the Virgina Western Power Company. The river was rising, the spray 
dashed over the rock. The weather was freezing, a dark night was closing in, and it was 
impossible to send a boat through that surging torrent to bring off the shipwrecked suf- 
ferers, whose doom seemed to be sealed. To encourage them to hold on to their per- 
ilous position and to cheer their desponding spirits, a large fire was kindled on the op- 
posite bank of the canal, about 100 yards off, by a body of rough, but kind-hearted men, 
who sang and danced and shouted around it all that dark and gloomy night, .^bove the 
loud roar of the turbid waters as they rushed through the narrow gorge of the Blue 
Ridge, their trumpet voice could be heard ringing on the midnight air, "Hold on, hold on ; 
dance and sing: we'll save you; we'll save you; day is almost here; hold on; hold on; 
the river is falling; you're safe; you're safe." Thus animated and encouraged, the im- 
prisoned men did hold on through that awful night until the first faint streak of day, 
when the river having fallen during the night, a canoe danced over the foaming tide 
and brought the half-frozen men to the bank. And there was such a scene, such hug- 
ging, and dancing and laughing, and crying and shouting and rejoicing. A few days later 
Captain Edward Echols, who resided in the immediate vicinity and was an eye-witness of 
most of these thrilling scenes wrote a most vivid and graphic account of them, which 
was published in the Lexington Gazette and copied by many papers in and out of the 
state. Captain Echols almost literally photographed the whole catastrophe, from the 
breaking of the rope to the rescue of the men in a scries of living pictures taken fresh 
from nature. You almost saw the boat as it plunged over the dam, and heard the shrieks 
of the drowning and drifting men. The style was perfectly simple and unpretending — 
like naive Isaac Walton in his "Compleat Angler" — a style which every school boy thinks 
he can write until he tries, but which the critics say has never been successfully imitated, — 


fresh, racy, ncr%-ous, pictorial, and yet familiar, colloquial, easy and natural. Captain 
Echols's success in that happy effort is easily explained. He felt warmly, the scenes were 
distinctly pictured on his heart, and his pen naturally copied them. I-'ccling is the sourrr 
of eloquence, and simplicity is the source of refinement. It is but simple justice to a man 
to say that Captain Echols was untiring in his efforts to save these unfortunate men and 
that they probably owe him their lives. The same praise is due to another worthy man. 
Peter A. Sailing. A negro named Frank Padgett, who belonsed to a gentleman of that 
name in Amherst, was drowned in a voluntary and heroic effort to save some of thc-e 
imperilled men. The humane and martyr-like conduct of this poor slave, who simply 
yielded to his natural sympathies for his suffering fellows made a deep impression on 
Captain Echols's susceptible heart, and most justly encited his warm admiration. To com- 
memorate this noble deed he erected at his own cost an enduring monument to Frank't 
memory at the lock opposite the "Velvet Rock" about a mile and a half below the dam, 
in the midst of the wildest and grandest scenery in Virginia, where the gurgling and foam- 
ing river dashes in tiny cascades through the overhanging mountains, and sweeps off in m 
glittering stream of silver. The traveler may observe a stout obelisk of dark marble 
bearing the following inscription : 

"a colored slave who during a freshet in James River in January, 1854, ven- 
tured and lost his life by drowning in a noble effort to save some of his 
fellow creatures who were in the midst of the flood from death." 

If the hearty admiration and commendation of noble and generous action is the next 
thing to performing them, then when Captain Fxhols so generously erected this monu- 
ment to this poor, humble negro, who deserved it far better than many an overpraised 
and vulf-ar hero who dies on the field of battle, he illustrated the nobleness of his own 
heart and built for himself, let us hope, an enduring monument in the hearts of his 

When the canal was sold to tlie Riclimond and .MlcKliany Railroad Com- 
pany, it was stipuLilcd that the monument should not be disturbed, and a railing 
was placed around it. 

Edmondson. During a long while the Edmondsons were numerotisly rep- 
resented in this county. The name is now extinct, although it maintained itself 
more than a century and a half. James K., a son of James and Margaret, was a 
lawyer by occupation and was countv judge from 1870 until 1881. In the Se- 
cession war he was colonel of the 22nd N'irginia Infantry and lost an arm at 
Chanccllorsviilc. He was married to Emily J. Taylor. No children were born 
to the union. Colonel Edmondson died in 180R at the ape of sixty-six. 

F.itill. The Eslills who have been idrntificd with Lexington, and have 
distinguished themselves in literary and professional lines, arc of the numerous 
progeny of Wallace Fstill, a gr,nnd nephew to the first white child born in New 
Jersey. Wallace lived in the Bullpasturc valley from 1745 to 1773, and was high 
•herifT of undivided Augusta. When seventy-five years of age he moved to 
what is now Monroe county, a region then on the very border-line of settlement 


At the time of this migration to Indian Creek, all — or all but one — of the nine 
children of his last wife were under age. The Estills have been people of strong 
mental power, and many of them engaged in public or professional life. The 
Estills of Lexington, sprang from Benjamin, the oldest son of Wallace, and a 
member of the first county court of Botetourt. Doctor Andrew D. Estill was 
born in 1853 in Tazewell, but married Lavellette Davidson, of Rockbridge. 
Henry Estill, who died in 1880 at the early age of thirty-five, was a graduate 
of Washington College. He edited the Virginia Educational Journal, and was an 
author of school books. In 1878 he became McCormick Professor of Natural 
Philosophy in his alma Mater. 

Gay. William Gay, who fought at the siege of Londonderry, had at least 
six children who came to the Calf pasture. These were William, John, James, 
Robert, Samuel, and Eleanor. Robert and Samuel did not long remain in this 
locality. Eleanor married William Kincaid. William Gay, who owned 900 acres 
on what is wrongly called Guy's Run, died in 1755. His wife, who was Mar- 
garet Walkup, aftreward married William Hamilton. James Gay, son of the 
pioneer James, and his brothers-in-law were the first men to introduce cattle 
of an improved breed into Kentucky. The Gays of Kentucky are derived 
from the Rockbridge families. They are among the largest landholders in the 
Bluegrass region and are connected with scores of the historic families of that 
state. Henry Gay, who married Jane Henderson, was a brother to the pioneer 
Gays, or at least a near relative, and he lived a while on the Calfpasture. His 
son, John H., born in 1787, became a millionaire merchant of St. Louis. Edward 
J. Gay, son of John H., was the largest sugar planter in Louisiana, and left an 
estate worth $12,000,000. The sugar mills and plantation are still in the Gay 

Glasgow. Three brothers of this name, Arthur, Robert, and Joseph, came 
to America late in the eighteenth century. They first settled at "Green Forest" 
within the present limits of Buena Vista. The second located at Max Meadows, 
while the third went with his large family to Ohio in 1806. The wife of Ar- 
thur was the widow of John McCorkle who fell in the battle of Cowpens. 
Of the three sons, Joseph settled at Balcony Falls, John at "Tuscan Villa" at 
the mouth of South River, and Robert on his father's homestead. Alexander 
McN., the only son of John who attained his majority, inherited his own fath- 
er's estate. He and his two sons were educated at Washington and Lee Uni- 
versity. Of the four sons of Robert who arrived at maturity, Joseph R., and 
William A., settled at Fincastle as lawyers, but the latter removed to Lexington 
in 1887, living here till his death in 1910 at the age of eighty-five. Frank T. 
settled at Richmond, and during nearly all of his business life was superintend- 
ent of the Tredegar Ironworks. Robert died of fever in the Confederate ser- 


vice. The sons of William A., who was many years a trustee of Washington 
and Lee University, arc Frank T., and Robert of Lexington, the former an at- 
torney, tlie latter a physician. With few exceptions the Glasgows have been 
Presbj-terians, and tlie record of the family is very honorable in every respect. 
They have been very strongly attracted to the professions, particularly that of 
the law. Quite a number have been graduated from college, in several in- 
stances with much distinction. The town of Glasgow derives its name from the 

Graliavi. William Graham, so prominent in the pinni-cr lii>ti>ry of Liberty 
Hall .Xcademy, was born at llarrisburg, Penn., Dec. 19, 1746. In his youth he 
was inclined to be wild, but his viewpoint changed as he neared his majority. 
Aided more by his mother than by his father, he then began to prepare for the 
ministry, and was graduated from the College of New Jersey in the same 
class with General Henry Lee. About the same time he was licensed to preach. 
In the fall of 1774 he came to Rockbridge to act as of the Presbyterian 
school that had just been authorized. He remained its head until 17%, when he 
resigned and went to the Ohio River with the intention of settling. But he was 
injudicious and the result was financially disastrous. He died at Richmond 
in 1799, while on a visit to the state capital in behalf of his land title. Some 
years later his remains were interred on the campus of Washington and Lee 
University. As the head of Liberty Hall Academy for twenty-two years, Gra- 
ham had to struggle against some very untoward circumstances, and it is much 
to his credit that the school did not succumb. I'or the ministry he seems to have 
been rather less adapted. His strong point was in the teaching of political 
science, and he was a meml)er of the convention that drafted the constitution 
of the state of Franklin, a commonwealth that had only a brief existence. It 
is unfortunate that this state did not come fully into being. It was not co- 
terminous with the present state of Tennessee. The proposed boundaries, as 
stated by Arthur Campbell — a trustee of Liberty Hall, — included that part of 
Virginia .sometimes called Little Tennessee, all of North Carolina west of the 
Blue Ridge, very small slices of West Virginia, (jeorgia, and .Mabama, and 
rather less than one-half of Tennessee. It would have made a mountain state, 
homogeneous in geography and pfipulation. 

Greenlee. In all the annals of Rockbridge there is no individual of more 
striking per.sonality than Mary LlizalK-th McDowell, who became the wife of 
James (irccnlce. So far as we have positive knowledge, she was the only woman 
in the little hand of homescekers, who in Octol»er, 1737, made the first actual 
settlement in Borden's Great Tract. At this time she was thirty years of age, 
and two of her eight children had l)een born. She lived many years a widow, 
and displayed much ability in managing a considerable estate. Its appraise- 


merit by William and John Paxton and Jacob Hickman showed that the per- 
sonality was $2,970, inclusive of eight slaves, these being valued from $100 in 
the case of a child to $500 for an adult. No books are mentioned. Illiteracy 
relieved her husband from serving as constable, and it would seem that the wife 
cared little for the printed page. Yet her mental faculties were keen and alert 
to the end, she used good language, and in a verbal passage at arms, she ap- 
pears to have been a match for all comers. Various legends cluster about her 
name, and it has been handed down that her wit and her nimbleness of mind 
came near causing her to be proceeded against for witchcraft. This is not im- 
possible, since it was in her own girlhood that a woman was ducked by the 
civil authorities in Princess Anne county on a charge of being a witch. In cer- 
tain Alleghany valleys a belief in the delusion exists to this day among people 
of German descent. In her widowhood Mary Greenlee kept a tavern, and as 
hostess she showed her eye for the main chance by flouting the regulations of 
the county court relative to the sale of ardent spirits. She moved from Timber 
Ridge to Greenlee's Ferry in 1780. If Mrs. Greenlee was keen in business, 
she was also something of a shrew. It was perhaps a victim of her caustic 
tongue who perpetrated the following lines of doggerel, which, let us hope, were 
written in pleasantry and not in malice. 

Mary Greenlee died of late; 
Straight she went to Heaven's gate : 
But Abram met her with a club, 
And knocked her back to Beelzebub. 

As a result of a lawsuit instituted by Joseph Borden, Mrs. Greenlee was 
called upon for a deposition. When asked how old she was, she made this tart 
rejoinder : "What is the reason you ask my age ? Do you think I am in my 
dotage? Ninety-five, the seventeenth of this instant." It is evident that her 
mental processes were in extraordinarily good working order, even at another 
deposition, taken at her home four years later, November 10, 1806. Two-thirds 
of a century had elapsed since she came to Rockbridge. Her reminiscences of 
the early pioneer days are numerous and precise, and of much historical im- 
portance ; more so than any other statements given by the old residents. Mary 
Greenlee became a centenarian, since her span of life reached from November 
17, 1707 until March 14, 1809. This tendency to longevity seems to have been 
inherited from her father, who reached a great age, and to have been passed on- 
ward to her grandson, John F. Greenlee, who died in 1915, when in his ninety- 
ninth year. Mr. Greenlee never married and was the last of the name in this 
county. Like his ancestress, he was in his old age a great source of information 
on local history. His habits were favorable to a long life, since he used no tobac- 
co and rarely touched liquor. James, the husband of Mary Greenlee, died about 


1764, leaving an estate appraised at $2767.67. By owning six slaves he was 
the heaviest slaveholder of that period of wiiom we have any certain knowledge. 
Exceptional items in the inventory are seven silver watches, valued at $20 each 
eight geese, and five pounds of beeswax. Yet the watches were not so low 
priced as they would seem, since it would have taken a very good horse, or three 
cows, to buy a single one of them. John, the oldest son of James and Mary 
Greenlee, disregarded his privilege under the British law of entail, and took 
steps to divide the estate equally among the five brothers. He had no issue, 
and as only one or two of his brothers remained in Rockbridge, the Greenlee 
name was never extensively represented here. 

Grigsby. The Grigsby family appeared in this county at the close of the 
Revolution, having come from the other side of the Blue Ridge and being of 
English derivation. The members of the connection were well-to-do, able, 
and influential, and owned several large farms, each with its distinctive name. 
As in several other instances, the name is now entirely gone. Benjamin Grigs- 
by, son of James, was graduated from Liberty Hall Academy in 1789, and was 
licensed as a Presbyterian divine in 1792. He died at Norfolk in 1810 at the 
early age of forty. His only son was Hugh Blair Grigsby, who achieved more 
than a statewide reputation as scholar, educator, and historian. 

Houston. The most famous character to come out of Rockbridge was 
General Samuel Houston, whose name and fame are inseparably associated 
with Texas. He was a grandson of John, the founder of the Rockbridge line 
of Houstons, and a son of Samuel and Elizabeth (I'axton) Houston. In a log 
house that stood seventy years ago in the rear of Timber Ridge meeting house, 
the future general was born March 2, 1793. He lost his father in 1806, and 
three years later he accompanied his mother and his younger brothers and sisters 
to Blount county in the valley of East Tennessee. He was daring and ambi- 
tious from the first, and in his new home he soon showed the venturesome- 
ness which does not seem characteristic of the Houstons as a family. He went 
for a while to the Oierokees, and was adopted as a sc-n by one of their chiefs. 
After his return he taught school. When nineteen years old he enlisted to 
serve against the Creek Indians, and in the battle of Tohopeka he was several 
times wounded, both by arrow and ball. His gallantry in this engagement niade 
the youth a lieutenant. About 1820 he took up the practice of law. In 1823 he 
was elected to Congress and served two terms in the lower house. Houston 
was a born leader of men. So rapidly and ciTcctively did he rise in the at- 
tention of the public that in 1827 he was elected governor of Tennessee. He 
did not serve out his first term. Just after his first marriage he suddenly re- 
signed his ofTice, not making public any reason for doing so. He went beyond 
the Mississippi to live with an Indian chief whom he had known eleven years 


earlier. This chief owned a large plantation worked by a dozen slaves. Hous- 
ton lived among the Cherokees at least three years. This period must be re- 
garded as the low-water mark in his varied career, since it was now that he 
gave way to the vice of intemperance. But the friendship between himself and 
the Indians was never broken, and where they were wronged he was always 
ready to uphold their cause. So far back as 1817, he acted as a sub-agent in 
the removal of the Cherokees from Georgia, but resigned the following year 
because of some reflections on his official conduct, and also because of a reproof 
from Calhoun, Secretary of War, for coming into his presence in Indian attire. 
During his present residence among the Cherokees he twice visited Washington 
to protect them from fraud and greed. 

At the very close of 1832, when Houston was in his fortieth year, there 
began the most eventful period of his life. By request of the Federal govern- 
ment he visited Texas to make treaties with the border tribes for the protection 
of traders. Deciding to remain, the Texans sent him to their constitutional 
convention of April 1833, and he took a leading part in its deliberations. Near 
the close of 1835, when there was war with Mexico, Houston was made com- 
mander-in-chief of the armies of Texas. April 21, 1836, he won the decisive 
battle of San Jacinto, fighting 1800 men with 700, and inflicting a loss of 1690 
against thirty-one on his own side. The invading army was annihilated. Santa 
Anna, who was not only its leader but also president of Mexico, was taken 
prisoner. It shows a humane spirit in General Houston that he did not cause 
the Mexican commander to be executed because of his atrocious cruelty on 
several occasions. The victory of San Jacinto established the independence of 
the republic of Texas and is a holiday in that commonwealth. When Texas was 
admitted as a state in the Federal Union, Houston was chosen senator and in 
this capacity he represented his state at Washington from 1846 until 1859. He 
was then elected governor of Texas, but because he was inflexibly opposed to se- 
cession. General Houston was removed from office in March, 1861. He ignored 
the secession convention, refused to swear allegiance to the Confederacy, and 
believed in fighting within the Union if there was to be any war at all. In 1860 
he ran next to John Bell in the presidential convention of the Constitutional 
Union party. After being deposed, Houston went to his home at Huntsville, 
where he lived quietly until his death, July 26, 1863. 

General Houston was of commanding presence. He was six feet three inches 
tall, large-framed, and well-proportioned. In manner he was courteous and 
pleasing. As a senator he wore coat and breeches of the best broadcloth, a tiger- 
skin vest, a sombrero, and a bright-colored blanket. He did not care to make 
money, although he did not lack opportunity. His habits were simple. He lived 
plainly in a log house and went to bed at nine o'clock. Houston had a melodious 


voice and was a tine orator. He was a good stump speaker, and could address 
the borderers in tlieir own dialect. As a legislator lie was noted for impartiality 
and unusual foresight. In the Senate chamber at Washington, he had the curious 
habit of whittling all day long, fashioning darts, crosses, and other objects that 
he gave away as curios. As a military leader he was wary, yet brave, able and 
resolute. In 1854, General Houston became a member of the Baptist Church. 
By his second wife, Margaret M. Lea, he had four sons and four daughters. Of 
these, Nettie P. has a record in prose and poetry, while Samuel, Jr., a physician 
has written for the periodicals. 

John Houston, the pioneer, figured in an exploit during his voyage from Ire- 
land to Philadelphia. He and his fellow passengers became convinced that the 
captain and crew meant to n>b them. So the passengers put the suspects in 
irons and navigated the vessel themselves. 

Samuel, Sr., the father of General Houston, was himself a soldier, having 
served in the Revolution as one of the famous riflemen of Daniel Morgan. Af- 
terward he was an inspector-general of troops on the frontier and held the rank 
of major. A first cousin was the Reverend Samuel Houston born on Hays 
Creek, January 1, 1758. He was a graduate of Liberty Hall and was licensed 
as a Presbyterian minister about 1784. He spent several years in the proposed 
State of Franklin, which he took a leading part in trying to establish, 
being a meml)er of the conmiittee that drafted its constitution. Returning in 
1789 he now became pastor of the churches at Falling Springs and Highbridge. 
Mr. Houston was a polished writer and for about twenty years he taught a clas- 
sical school in a building on his own place. He was original in his ideas and was 
the inventor and patentee of a threshing machine. His house and barn were 
built on plans of his own, and his farm of six hundred acres was tilled on more 
scientific methods than were usual in his day. During his long pastorate he per- 
haps united more couples than any other minister in Rockbridge. He became 
blind near the close of his long life, but was to have preached the d.iy he died, 
which was January 29, 1839. He was tall, erect, and square-shouldered, digni- 
fied in manner, and was both particular and old-fashioned in the matter of 

A son of the last-named, and therefore a second cousin to the general, was 
the Reverend .Samuel R. Houston, Ixirn March 12. 1806. He was graduated from 
Dickenson College in 1825. and after teaching six years at Philadelphia in a 
school for the deaf and dumb, he was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry, and 
sailed in 1835 as a missionary to Greece. At historic Sparta he conducted a large 
mission school. In 1841 he returned to America bec.iuse of ill-he.ilth in his fam- 
ily. During forty-four years he was pastor at Union. W. Va. The diaries that 
Doctor Houston kept during his residence in foreign lands and as a non<om- 


batant in the war of 1861 are of much historical and descriptive value. He was 
the father of the late Judge William P. Houston, of Lexington, a gentleman 
who was a cyclopedia of the local history of Rockbridge. Doctor Houston was 
also the author af "A History of the Houston Family." In this work he relates 
that of the progeny of John, the pioneer, nearly fifty were Presbyterian elders, 
and more than thirty were ministers of the same or other comnumions. Many 
of the connection had held civil or military office, while many in the female line 
married men engaged in the learned professions, or who were otherwise of force 
and influence. Few had become wealthy and none had fallen into gross crime. 

Jordan. Colonel John Jordan came from Hanover county soon after his 
marriage to Lucy Winn in 1802. His home, "Jordan's Point," now known as 
"Sloner," was built in 1818. It is a fine mansion in the colonial style, with hand- 
some grounds. Rockbridge was almost wholly rural when he came to Lexington. 
Colonel Jordan had much to do with its industrial development. He became in- 
terested in iron smelting, flour and grist mills, lumber mills, blacksmith shops, 
and the weaving of woolen and cotton goods. As a contractor, he built Washing- 
ton College and Ann Smith Academy, and for near a half century practically all 
the other large buildings in and around Lexington. He constructed the batteau 
canal at Balcony Falls, and was the first president of the construction company. 
He also took part in the building of the James River and Kanawha Canal. Col- 
onel Jordan was also a road builder. In 1826 he built a road across North 
Mountain from near Collierstown to Longdale. When the county court hesitated, 
the colonel made this characteristic reply : "Give me the men and I will build the 
road." The road was constructed. Twelve furnaces were owned and operated by 
Colonel Jordan and his sons. Four of these were in this county. The others were 
chiefly in Alleghany and Botetourt. The Victoria furnace was in Louisa, and the 
Westham was near Richmond. Ironmaking was in fact a family pursuit, the 
colonel's father having made cannonballs for the American army in the Revolu- 
tion. Colonel John Jordan was six feet three inches tall, and had dark hair and 
fine dark eyes. He was not only of commanding appearance, but was kindly, af- 
fectionate, honorable, and charitable. Both himself and wife were Baptists, and 
when the Lexington Baptist church was organized, one-half of its membership 
came from the Jordan household. Colonel Jordan was a close personal friend to 
General F. H. Smith. The two men would sit for hours on the veranda at 
Jordan's Point, talking on affairs relating to the Virginia Military Institute. 

Mrs. Jordan, a very handsome blonde, was six feet tall. She was a woman of 
unusual strength of character, very industrious, and personally superintended the 
affairs of her large household. Spinning, weaving, dyeing, sewing, and the care 
of laundry, dairy, storeroom, smokehouse, orchard, and garden were but some of 
the activities of the estate, much of the work being done by slave labor. 


G>loncl and Mrs. Jordan had twelve sons and two daugliters, nearly all of 
whom grew to maturity. Like their parents they were handsome in person, and 
the sons were generally of superior size and stature. Edwin J., the oldest, lived 
at White Haven in Alleghany. John W., was the founder of Rockbridge Baths. 
Samuel F., was particularly interested in the iron business, and it was under the 
colonel's sons that the industry attained its greatest development. The sons gen- 
erally migrated from Rockbridge, sooner or later, and very few of the later de- 
scendants arc now residents here. A number of the present generation are serv- 
ing in the war now closing. Colonel Jordan was himself a lieutenant in 1812, 
and twenty silver dollars were used as mountings on his sword. Several of his 
grandsons were in the war of 1861 and Captain Charles II.. son of Samuel F., 
was severely wounded at Fisher's Hill. 

Juiikin. George Junkin was born at Carlisle, Penn., October 1, 1790, and 
was graduated from Jefferson College in 1813. The first Sunday schools and 
temperance societies in central Pennsylvania were organized by him. He was 
the founder and the first president of Lafayette College, and for three years was 
president of Miami University. In 1848 he came to Lexington as president of 
Washington College, and held this position until April, 1861, when he resigned be- 
cause of his inflexible opposition to secession. Doctor Junkin returned North, 
where he died, May 20, 1868. He was a prolific author, especially of religious 
works. The father's antagonism to secession was not shared by all of the six sons 
and three daughters. Margaret, the eldest — born 1825. died 1897 — married 
Colonel John T. L. Preston. Mrs. Preston had remarkable literary and scholastic 
gifls. While yet a child, she thought in verse, and she learned the Hebrew alpha- 
bet ?/ i!.e age of three. In her adult life she was one of the best among Anu-rican 
Ariters of sonnets. Several volumes of poems, rather of the Browning type, 
came from her pen. In 1856 appeared "Silverwood." a novel. To promote 
Southern literary effort, Mrs. Preston gratuitously edited several papers. Of the 
other daughters of Doctor Junkin, Llinor wai ihe first wife of Stonewall Jackson, 
and Jidia M. married Prof. J. M. Fishburne, of Washington College. Three .eons, 
George, Ebenezer, and William F.. entered the mini.'.try. The last named — horn 
1831, died 1900 — married Anna A., the oldest sister of William A. Anderson. He 
was for some time pastor of Falling Springs Church. His children are Mary V.., 
(wife of General Edward W. Nichols, of the Virginia Military Institute), Julia 
T., Anna D., Francis T. A. (a lawyer of Oiicigo). Elinor J., (present wife of 
Doctor John H. I^tanc. of Johns Hopkins University), Isabel S.. and William D. 
A., a lawyer of New York City. 

Laird. James I-aird, Sr., was living in 1756 with John Craig in what is now 
Rockingham county. The house he built in 1760 on his purchase at the foot of 
Laird's Knob and at the head of Smith Creek is still an occupied dwelling and is 



in a good state of preservation. The pioneer died here in 1803. His children 
were James, David, and Mary. The first of these served in the French and In- 
dian War and both were in the Revolution. In 1805, James, Jr., was living in 
Rockbridge near Fancy Hill. Mary a sister to James, St., married James Craig, 
Sr., who was a member of the Augusta court in 1771-78. David E. Laird con- 
ducted at Fancy Hill one of the best preparatory schools in Virginia. In cen- 
tral Kentucky is an emigrant branch of the Rockbridge Lairds, and it includes 
people of wealth and position. 

Lee. George Washington Custis Lee was the oldest son of General Robert 
E. Lee. In 1854 he came out of West Point at the head of his class, and was 
in the engineering corps until the outbreak of the war of 1861. As a captain 
of engineers he was then employed on the forts around Richmond. In the sum- 
mer of 1861 Jefferson Davis made him an aide-de-camp with the rank of colonel 
of cavalry. Near the close of the war he had risen to the rank of major-gen- 
eral. He saw little active service, although this was not according to his desire. 
In the fall of 1865 he came to Lexington as professor of civil engineering and ap- 
plied mechanics. February 1, 1872, he succeeded his father as college president, 
and was the first to preside over Washington and Lee University under its pres- 
ent name. In 1897 he retired. As president emeritus he was oflfered $2,000 a 
year and the use of the house he was occupying. This was declined and he went 
to live at Ravenwood, a family estate in Fairfax county. There he died in 1913 
at the age of eighty. General Lee was unmarried. 

Susan P. Pendleton, sister of General A. S. Pendleton, married in this 
county Edwin G. Lee, a native of JefTerson county. West Virginia. In conjunc- 
tion with her father and sisters, she carried on a classical school in Lexington. 
Mrs. Lee, who wrote "A School History of the United States" and "Memoirs of 
William N. Pendleton," died in Lexington in 1911, aged seventy-nine. 

Letcher. John Letcher came to this county from Fluvanna. He was an 
uncle to Robert P. Letcher, who was governor of Kentucky in 1840-44. .A.fter 
coming to Rockbridge, John married Mary Houston, an aunt to General Sam 
Houston, of Texas. Two of his sons remained in their native county, John, Jr., 
operating a tannery ten miles south of Lexington, and William H., living at the 
county seat and keeping a boarding house for students. John, a son of William 
H., was born March 28. 1813, and was educated at Washington College, afterward 
studying law at Randolph-Macon College. He was highly successful in his chosen 
profession, and won a renown that sent him to the Constitutional Convention of 
1850. From 1851 to 1859 he was a member of the House of Representatives at 
Washington, where he sat in the Committee on \\'ays and Means. His Congress- 
ional career was conscientious and useful. It was here that he became known as 
"Honest John Letcher," and 3-= the "Watch-Dog of the United States Treasury." 


In 1859, Mr. Letcher was elected governor of his state by the comfortable ma- 
jority of 5,569. although lie failed to carry the Eastern District. His administra- 
tion covered the years 1860-63 inclusive, sti that he was one of the war governors 
of the period. After this responsibility and trying experience. Mr. Letcher re- 
turned to liis native town to resume the practice of law, hut after the close of hos- 
tilities he was repeatedly sent to the General .\sscinbly. Politically. Governor 
Letcher was a Democrat and for some time he was editor of the Valley Star. 
During the months of suspense prior to the firing on Fort Sumter, he was not one 
of the original secessionists and his views were conciliatory. Even after the wan- 
ton burning of his fine residence by order of General Hunter, and while the 
memory of it must still have been fresh, he could use these words in an address 
at the X'irginia Military Institute. September 19. 186^1: "The war has ended. We 
are again a united people. Let the passions, the prejudices, and the revengeful 
feelings, which have existed between the sections, and which were intensified by 
the civil war, be consigned in sulemn silence to a common grave, there to sleep for- 
ever. The past is gone and should be forgotten. The present is upon us, and 
should be wisely improved with a view to the future and all it has in store for us." 
The governor's death took place January 26. 1884. closing a long period of in- 
validism. The wife of Mr. Ixtcher was Mary S. Holt, of Augusta county. The 
children born to the couple were William H., Elizabeth S., Ann H., An<lrew H., 
John D., Mary K., Virginia L., Fannie P., and Greenlee D. 

Lcyburn. John Leyburn graduated from the College of New Jersey with 
two honors and prepared for the ministry at Union Theological Seminary. His 
first pastorate was at Gainesville. Ala. For nine years he was co-editor of The 
Presbyterian, at Philadelphia. He was also secretary of the Publication So- 
ciety of the Presbyterian Church. The Secession war found him traveling in 
Europe and called him home. Just after the close of the war he was serving a 
church in Baltimore. In 1874 he again went abroad, having already visited the 
British Isles as a delegate to the Ter-Centenary Celebration of the Presbyterian 
Church of Scotland. His wife was Mary L. Mercer, a granddaughter of Gen- 
eral Hugh Mercer of the Revolution. There were no children. Doctor I-eyburn 
was l)om in Lexington and in the evening of his life he wrote some very enter- 
taining reminiscences for the Rockbridge papers. He <Iied in 1803 at the age 
of seventy-eight. 

Locher. Charles H. LocIut is a son of Oiarles II. I.<Klier. Sr.. a native of 
Maryland who came to Balcony Falls about 1852 to manufacture cement. This 
business he pursued oil a large scale until the plant was demolished by a flood 
in the Tames. He died at Glasgow in 188*>. The son. who is a younger brother 
to Harry O. Ixicher of Glasgow, obtained a very pr.ictical knowledge of rail- 
road const rtict ion. and drifted into contract work in which he has made a nation- 


wide reputation. He is the owner of several patents, inclusive of an aerial dump 
used in excavation. The principal undertakings which Mr. Locher has carried 
to completion are these : the Chicago Drainage Canal the ; Wachusett Dam in 
Massachusetts ; the Shoshone Dam in Wyoming ; the Livingstone Ship Channel in 
Detroit River; and the I. and O. Viaduct at Richmond, \'irginia. Without his 
knowledge or solicitation, Mr. Locher was selected as manager to place a system 
of dams in the basin of the Miami River of Ohio. By an expenditure of 
$25,000,000, it is hoped to so impound the flood waters of that valley that such 
a disaster as befell the city of Dayton in 1913 is not at all likely to recur. Mr. 
Locher is ingenious, a good organizer, rather careful in making a promise, but 
scrupulous in the fulfilment. 

Liisk. William Lusk, a justice of this county, was a self-made man, and 
incidentally was an ingenious mechanic. 

Maury. Matthew Fontaine ALnury, one of the foremost scientific men of the 
nineteenth century, was born in Spottslyvania county in 1806. At the age of 
nineteen, and as a midshipman, he began a voyage that extended around the 
world. In 1843 he was given charge of the National Observatory at the city of 
Washington, and the present Weather Bureau grew out of his suggestions. His 
knowledge of things maritime was so profound as to give him the title of "Path- 
finder of the Seas." He instituted deep sea soundings, pointed out to Cyrus W. 
Field where an ocean cable should be laid, and wrote a standard work on physical 
geography. Offers of knighthood by the British government were refused, and 
he declined invitations to Russia and France. The last named country offered him 
the superintendency of the National Observatory at Paris. During the war of 
1861 he supervised coast defenses for the Confederate government. After the 
surrender of Lee he went to Mexico, where he had a seat in the cabinet of the 
Emperor Maximilian, and he introduced the plant from which quinine is derived. 
From Mexico he went to England, where he was given the degree of Doctor of 
Laws by the University of Cambridge. In 1868 he was recalled to his native 
land, and he settled at Lexington as professor of meterology in Washington 
College. After five years of usefulness in this final position, he died at the age 
of sixty-seven. By his special request his remains were afterward taken to 
Richmond for re-interment, and by way of Goshen Pass during the rhododendron 
season. For this beautiful watergap he had a particular admiration. The will of 
Commodore Maury is noteworthy for its Christian spirit and for the way in 
which it distributes among his children the many medals he received from the 
governments of Europe. 

McDowell. The McDowells of Rockbridge enjoy the distinction not only 
of being the first family to settle in the Borden grant, and probably the first in 
the county, but to have furnished a governor of Virginia and a number of other 


more or less eminent names of county, state, or national importance. Ephraim 
McDowell, the progenitor, had been at the famous siege of Londonderry in 1689, 
and was an elderly man when he came to Rockbridge. Yet he lived many years 
thereafter, and was sufficiently active to make for himself a place in the annals 
of the pioneer epoch. So far as we know, he was accompanied to America only 
by two sons and two daughters. Tlie sons were John and James, but it is only 
the posterity of the former who appears to figure in Rockbridge history. John 
McDowell is said to have come here as a widower, but this is probably incorrect. 
However, it was not long after his arrival that he was married to Magdalcna 
Woods, by whom he had a daughter, Martha. Slie married George MofTctf, of 
Augusta. The children of his first wife were Samuel and James. John Mc- 
Dowell was a practical surveyor and assisted in laying off the Borden Tract 
As a leader in the new settlement he was made captain of the first local militia 
company but fell in the battle with the Iroquois Indians at the mouth of North 
River. His gravestone in the family burial ground bears this legend : 

Hicr Lyes The body of 
John Mack Dowcll 
Deced Deccmbe 1743 

The year is incorrectly marked, since the true time was 1742 and not 1743. 
But as the stone could not have been set up until some time in 1743, the error is 
easily accounted for. 

Samuel, the oldest child of Captain McDowell, was almost exactly two years 
old when his father c.imc to Timber Ridge in the fall of 1737. His wife was 
Mary McGung, to whom he was married in 1754. When only ten or eleven years 
old he carried a chain in the surveying parties, and thus became very familiar 
with the Borden lands. After coming to maturity he was very active in public 
afTairs. Like his cousin, John Greenlee, he waived his rights under the British 
law of entail, and gave his brother and sister shares equal to his own in 
the parental estate. On his return from the House of Burgesses in 1775, he 
erected a liberty pole in his yard. Next May he and his colleague, Thomas Ixwis, 
bore to the state capital the first official expression touching the matter of the in- 
dependence of the colony. In the military movements of the Revolution he took 
a part, and he commanded a body of militia in the b.nttle of Guilford. At Point 
Pleasant, in November, 1777, Colonel McDowell rendered an important service. 
General Hand had come from Pittsburg and was joined by 700 militia, who were 
expecting to be led against the Indian towns on the Scioto. Hand concluded that 
it was too late in the fall to set out. While at Fnrt Randolph he ordered the 
rations cut down on the ground that the men were living too well. The militia at 
oner went on a strike. They buckled on their haversacks and shouldered their 
guns. McDowell acted as mediator and restored a o-mlilTiirr of harmony. Also, 



by order of the general, he rode before the line and announced the surrender of 
Burgoyne at Saratoga. The profession of Colonel McDowell was that of the 
law, and after his removal to Kentucky in 1783 he was a judge. He lived to 
old age and his depositions in the Borden suit are of much interest. His daugh- 
ter Magdalene married Andrew Reid, the first clerk of Rockbridge. His son 
Ephriam, born 1771, died 1830, received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from 
the University of Edinburgh. He settled at Danville, Kentucky as a physician 
and surgeon, and has the distinction of being the first man to perform a success- 
ful operation in ovariotomy. 

James, brother to Samuel, was two years younger, but died when only thirty- 
three years of age. James' wife, to whom he was married in 1793 was Sarah 
Preston, granddaughter to General William Campbell, one of the heroes of 
King's Mountain. James, Jr., the only son, was six feet two inches tall, but this 
commanding stature was not at all uncommon in the pioneer days. He was a man 
cf "vigorous mind, strong common sense, and unflinching integrity." His decision 
of character and his patriotism are shown by his record in the 1812 war. He re- 
ported at Lexington, November 14, 1812, with a regiment of 1200 men. and the 
services of himself and his command were accepted. They were on duty more 
than two years, and although never in action, their aid was very important. The 
regiment acted as a flying-guard along the coast of the Chesapeake to keep parties 
of British marines from landing. Large quantities of brandy were distilled on 
Colonel McDowell's plantation of Cherry Grove, but when the temperance re- 
form appeared on the horizon, he ceased the manufacture at once and absolutely. 
He went a step further. On a visit to Greenbrier he picked up a tract on the 
tobacco habit, and convincing himself that its arguments were sound, he imme- 
diately gave up using the weed, although he had been chewing or smoking for 
fifty years. The wife of Colonel McDowell, to whom he was married in 1793, 
was Sarah Preston, a granddaughter to General William Campbell, one of the 
heroes of King's Mountain. His children were Susan, James, and Elizabeth. 
The first daughter became the wife of William Taylor, who died while a mem- 
ber of the lower house of Congress. The second daughter wedded Thomas PL 
Benton, a statesman of national renown. A daughter of Benton became the 
wife of General John C. Fremont, whose chief title to fame rests upon his ex- 
plorations in the Far West and his share in bringing California under the Ameri- 
can flag. Fremont was the standard-bearer of the Republican party in the cam- 
paign of 1856, and was an unsuccessful leader of Federal armies in 1861-62. 

James, the only son of Colonel James McDowell, was born at Cherry Grove, 
October 12, 1796, and was graduated from Princeton College in 1817. The same 
college gave him in 1846 the degree of Doctor of Laws. He read law but never 
practiced it. His vocational career was that of a planter, first in Kentucky and 


later in Rockbridge. Colonel McDowell was a model gentleman, very preposess- 
ing in manner, and he made all visitors feel at case in his presence. Yet he had 
very pronounced views with respect to personal conduct, and was not afraid of 
being called a Puritan. No liquors might appear at his dinners, and no amuse- 
ment was permitted in his home which did not meet his approval. Being a polish- 
ed orator and having an aptitude for statescraft. he gravitated into public life. 
Politically he was a Democrat. He served in the General .Asst-mhly. was governor 
of his state, 1843-46, and then succeeded his brother-in-law as a member of Con- 
gress. As a statesman, McDowell possessed unusual judgment and foresight, 
and in several important matters was ahead of his age. Mis state papers arc 
able documents. He believed that emancipation of the slaves was inevitable, and 
the Nat Turner tragedy did not shake his advocacy of a progressive freeing of 
the negroes. During his administration as governor he gave his hearty support 
to a measure that nearly resulted in a system of free schools. His friendship for 
popular education is expressed in these words "I know not who was the origina- 
tor of the school system of Massachusetts, but I would rather have been that man 
than wear the proudest diadem of Europe." McDowell's lack of ultra-partisanship 
appears in a brilliant speech against nullification in 1833, and in a speech in Con- 
gress in favor of the admission of California as a free state. Eight of the ten 
children of Governor ^fcDowcll arrived at the age of maturity and married. He 
died at Colalto, August 24, 1851. 

AfaXult. Alexander McXutt was granted lands in Nova Scotia after the 
expulsion of the Arcadians, visited England on a colonization errand, and re- 
turned with over 200 settlers and some supplies. He complained of for 
parcelling out land without due authority. On the advent of the Revolution he 
joined the .American "rebels" and although the lands appear to have been con- 
fiscated, he attempted to convey 100.000 acres to Liberty Hall .Academy. In his 
later years he In-came a religious enthusiast. He died in 1811, and was buried at 
Falling Springs. His gold-mounted sword was long preserved in the family. 
While a lieutenant in the I'rench and Indian war. he kept a <li;iry. but unfortu- 
nately for the interests of Rockbridge he gave it to Governor Fauquier. 

John, a brother to .McxaiuUr. married Catherine .Anderson. A daughter 
married John McCorkle, who lost his life at Cowpens. A .son, .Alexander, was 
the father of Alexander G. McNutt and grandfather to two generals of the Con- 
federate army: .Albert G. Jenkins and I'rank I'axton. 

Alexander G. McNutt, son of .Alexamler and Rachael (Grigsby) McNutt. 
was Ixim on North River one mile below Ruena Vista. He was eciucated at 
Washington College, and at the age of twenty-one was settled as a lawyer at 
Jackson. Mississippi. Isa.ic McNutt. his uncle, had already migrated in this 
direction. The young man was well read and an easy writer. He was a fine 



stump speaker, but was pitted against Sergeant S. Prentiss, whose oratory was 
on a par with that of Patrick Henry or Daniel Webster. After 1838 McNutt 
declined to meet his antagonist on the platform. McNutt's intemperance and 
slovenly attire were made a target by Prentiss, but the future governor had the 
moral courage and strength of character to reform and his law practice became 
very renunierative. In 1829 he was Speaker of the House of Representatives 
for Mississippi, and as a Democrat was elected governor, his term covering the 
period 1838^2. McNutt died in 1848, in the midst of a presidential cam- 
paign. He was unmarried, and the four brothers who followed him to the Gulf 
country also died without issue. 

A pioneer McNutt was Robert, who died on a voyage to Ireland, and his 
wife, whose maiden name was Rosanna Dunn, married Patrick McFarland. Still 
another was George, who came here with his brother William as advance agents 
for some kinspeople. Tradition has it that both brothers were in the battle of 
King's Mountain. William went to the Northwest, and George, who was three 
times married and had a numerous family, settled near Knoxville. Tennessee. 

Montgomery., tlumphrey Montgomery, who settled on Buffalo Creek, 
was a son of Humphrey Montgomery, of Pennslyvania. and served under Captain 
Samuel Lapsley in 1777-79. 

Moore. Andrew Moore, a son of David, was born at "Cannicello," in this 
county in 1752. In his youth he was shipwrecked while on a voyage to the West 
Indies. In consequence, he and several companions were marooned several weeks 
on an island, doubtless one of the Bahamas, and the lizards on which they sub- 
sisted must have been iguanas. This vegetable-eating reptile is considered a 
great delicacy. He was admitted to the bar in 1774 and was very a successful 
lawyer. In 1776 he was commissioned a lieutenant, and enlisted 100 men. se- 
curing nineteen at a single log-rolling. During the next three years he was a 
captain of riflemen under Daniel Morgan. In 1779 he resigned and from 1781 
to 1789 was in the state legislature. In 1788 he was a member of tiie state con- 
vention that ratified tlic Federal Constitution. Ratification had been made a 
distinct issue in the campaign which resulted in sending Andrew Moore and Wil- 
liam McKee to the Convention. But Patrick Henry wielded a great influence in 
that body, and because of his opposition, a large public meeting at Lexington in- 
structed the delegates to vote against ratification. Both Moore and McKce decided 
that they were justified in disregarding these instructions and voted accordingly. 
A change of only five votes would have defeated ratification. Moore was re-elect- 
ed when he again ran for office. He was defeated only once in twenty-nine can- 
didacies, and then then only by one vote. Throughout Wasiiington's adminis- 
tration he was in the House of Representatives. After again returning to the 
General Assembly, he was once more a Congressman and then a member of the 


Federal Senate. In 1809 he was conimissioncd a major-general, and the next 
year was appointed a United States Marsliall. holding this office until 1821, the 
year of his death. Mis wife was Sally, a daughter of Andrew Reid. 

Samuel McDowell Moore, a son of General Andrew Moore, was born in 
1796 and died in 1875. He was a man of powerful build, strongly marked 
countenance, and commanding force. He thought and acted for himself, called 
a spade a spade, and was not a person to be improperly interfered with. In any 
arena he was a dangerous antagonist. lie was a leader in the Rockbridge bar 
and was a Congressman in 1833-35. Mr. Moore was a Whig in politics, of 
anti-slavery feeling, and in the state convention of 1861 he vigorously combattcd 
the arguments of the secession leaders. He was married to Evalina. a daughter 
of .Vndrew Alexander. His only child was a daughter, who married John H. 

William, the elder brother of General Andrew Moore, married Nancy Mc- 
Oung and lived near Fairfield. He was a merchant, and sherifT. and had a furnace 
on South River. His children were Samuel, David. John, Eliab, Jane, Isabella, 
Elizabeth and Nancy. William Moore was a man of most unusual physical 
strength In the battle of Point Pleasant, John Steele was wounded and about 
to be scalped. Moore shot the Indian, knocked another down with his gun, and 
although Steele was heavy, he took him up and bore him to a place of safety. 
Perhaps this feat undermined Moore's constitution, for he only reached the age 
of about ninety-three years. 

Morrison. James D. Morrison, a son of William, was a graduate of Wash- 
ington College, and in the civil war was a captain in the 58th Virginia Infantry. 
He was sent to the Assembly in 1872. and five years later he founded the Rock- 
bridge Citircti. He died in 1902. aged about seventy years. Captain Morrison 
married I-aura Chapin, and his children were William, Kenneth, and Irene. 

Nelson. Alexander L. Nelson, a native of Augusta, was graduated from 
Washington College in 1846 and succeeded General D. H. Hill in the chair of 
mathematics. Professor Nelson, who was a great grandson of Sampson Mathews, 
died in 1910 at the age of eighty-three. His wife was Elizabeth H. Moore. 

Niehols. General Edward Nichols was born at Petersburg. 1858. He was 
graduated with high honors from the Virginia Military Institute in 1878, and 
took a post-graduate course in engineering. He entered the legal profession but 
left if to take the chair in engineering at the Institute in 1882. From 1800 until 
1908 he held the chair of mathematics. In this interval he became the author of 
an "Analytical Geometry," and "A DifTerential and Integral Calculus." He is 
the present Superintendent of the Institute. The first wife of General Nichols 
was Edmonia L., a daughter of Doctor Livingston Waddcll ; the second is Mary 
E., the oldest daughter of the late William F. Junkin. Her first husband 
Ijwrcnce Rust, I-L. D., of I>oudoun county 


Parsons. Colonel Henry C. Parsons, several years owner of the Natural 
Bridge, was a native of Vermont. He was the author of "The Reaper," a vol- 
ume of poems. Colonel Parsons was murdered at Clifton Forge, June 29, 1894, 
by a railroad man. 

Paul. Captain Audley Paul was a son of Hugh Paul, a Presbyterian min- 
ister, who migrated from county Armagh, Ulster, to Chester county, Pennsyl- 
vania. He was a very useful officer, and was in military service nearly all the 
time from 1754 until the close of the Revolution. He led his company several 
times against the Indians. He was under Washington in the battle known as 
Braddock's Defeat, and he endured the hardships of the Big Sandy expedition. 
His son relates in 1839 that his father received no compensation for these ser- 
vices. Captain Paul lived near the line of Botetourt. His brother John became 
a Roman Catholic priest in Maryland. 

Pa.vtons. The Paxtons, a very numerous connection in this county, fall in- 
to two groups, the progeny of two brothers. One of these settled on South 
River, the other south of Lexington. The Paxtons have been a prosperous folk 
and have stood high in the community. Several of the earlier generations were 
wealthy, aristocratic planters, and unusually heavy growers of hemp. Not a 
few of the descendants have attained prominence in literary, professional, and 
business circles. 

Major James Paxton, a son of William and his wife Elenor Hays, was from 
1818 until 1828 commandant of the arsenal at Lexington. He then retired to an 
estate at the mouth of the Cowpasture owned by his father-in-law, John Jordan. 
Here he died in 1866 at the age of eighty-five. Major Paxton was a great 
leader and scholar. A shadow came over his life through his killing of a Captain 
Dade in a duel. 

Colonel James H., a son of Colonel William Paxton, was a graduate of 
Washington College in the class of 1833. He delighted in the classics and was 
the foremost Latin scholar in Rockbridge. At his home, "Mountain View," he 
maintained for twelve years a classical school, and was a friend of public 
schools. Colonel Paxton served a term in the Senate of Virginia. He died in 
1902 at the great age of ninety years. His wife was Kate Glasgow, and his 
children were Nellie, Kate G., Archibald H., Robert (a captain in the United 
States army), William T., Professor James H., and J. Gordan. 

John D. Paxton, who died in 1868 at the age of eighty-four, was also a grad- 
uate of Washington College. For some years he was a missionary in Europe. 
His sermons number 5769. He was a most vehement opponent to slavery, and 
in 1833 he published a volume against it. He also published a volume on his 
travels in the Eastern continent. A memoir of Mr. Paxton was written by his 
widow. His nephew, John W., a son of James H. Paxton, was an eminent phy- 

270 A mSTiiki ij KiH MiKu-.K COUNTY, VIRCINIA 

Elisha F. Paxton. the one brigadier directly contributed by Rockbridge to 
the Confederate army, was a nephew to Governor McXutt, of Mississippi, and 
was born in 1828. He graduated from Washington College in 1845, from Yale 
College in 1847, and completed a law course at tiie University of N'irginia in 1849. 
General Paxton was an original secccssionist, and at the outset of the war 
was a lieutenant in the Rockbridge RilUs. After serving as aide-de-camp to 
Stonewall Jackson, he took command of the Stonewall Urigade, November 2, 
1862. He was killed at the head of his troops in the battle ot C hancellorsvillc. 
May 2, 1862, just one day before his commander was disabled. Indifferent eye- 
sight had caused him to abandon the law and turn to farming. The wife of 
General Paxton was E H. White. His children are Matthew \V., the pres- 
ent editor of the Rockbridge County News, and the present dean of Rockbridge 
journalism, John G.. an attorney of Kansas City, and I'rank of San Saba county, 
Texas. James G., an elder brother of General Paxton, was killed August 6, 
1870, in the train wreck at Jerry's Run on the Oiesapcake and Ohio Railroad. 

Alexander .S.. a son of Thomas P. Paxton, was the author of Memory 
Days, a delightful sketch of antebellum times in Rockbridge. The story cen- 
ters about an old field school near the entrance to .Arnold's N'alley. 

Poague. William T., son of John B., and Elizabeth (Stuart) Poague, came 
out of Washington College in the class of 1857, and entered the practice of law 
in St. I^uis. In the Confederate army he rose from the rank of private to that of 
lieutenant-colonel. He was with General Lee in his Greenbrier campaign, and 
was in all of Stonewall Jackson's battles. In 1885 he became treasurer of the 
Virginia Military Institute. Other positions of honor and trust were held by 

Preston. The Preston group-family is noteworthy for the exceptional num- 
ber of eminent persons it includes. Colonel William Preston, a soldier and sur- 
geon of the Dunmore and Revolutionary wars, was the only son of John, the 
immigrant and his wife, a sister to Colonel James Patton. Thomas L., tenth 
child of Colonel William, was an alumnus of Liberty Hall Academy, a lawyer 
and diefl in military service in the war of 1812. Colonel John T. I.. Preston, son 
of Captain Thomas L., began active life as a lawyer, but for forty-three years 
was professor of language and literature in the Virginia Military Institute, a 
school that he helped in no small degree to establish. During forty years he was 
known as the "town speaker," yet he was somewhat unsocial and did not always 
choose to be on the popular side. All his seven sons were educated at Washing- 
ton College. His first wife was Sally L. Caruthers, his second was Margaret, 
the eldest daughter of President Junkin, of the same institution. The chiMren 
who rcacliccl adult age were Thomas I... I*"ranklin, William C . John A., Eliza- 
beth, George J., and Herbert R. Thomas L., and John .\ . became ministers. 



Franklin and William C, were killed in the war, the first at New Market, the 
second at Second Manassas. Franklin, the best linguist of his age in the state, 
was assistant professor of Greek in Wahington College. George J., and Herbert 
R., were the children of the second wife. Both settled in Baltimore, the first as 
a physician, tlie second as a lawyer. 

Reid. Andrew Reid, of Mulberry Hill, married Magdalene, daughter of 
Samuel McDowell, and had three sons and eight daughters. He was the first 
clerk of Rockbridge. Samuel McDowell Reid, one of the three sons, was born 
in 1790, and was an adjutant under his cousin. Colonel James McDowell, in the 
war of 1812. He succeeded his father as county clerk, after serving a time as 
deputy. He was a founder of the Franklin Society, more than fifty years 
trustee of Washington College and Ann Smith Academy, a chief organizer of 
the Rockbridge County Fair, and was mainly instrumental in opening the 
North River to Lexington. He died in 1869. From his marriage to Sarah 
E. Hare, only two children, Mary L., and Agnes, grew to maturity. The former 
married Professor James J. White. 

Robinson. John Robinson came from Ireland to Rockbridge in 1770, when 
seventeen years of age. He learned the trade of weaver, but by turning horse- 
trader and speculating in soldiers' certificates, he became able to purchase Hart's 
Bottom in 1779. He enlarged his landed property to 800 acres, exclusive of 
his holdings on the Cowpasture. He was not highly successful as a planter, 
although he became owner of sixty slaves. It was mainly by the distilling of 
whiskey that he accumulated his fortune. Mr. Robinson was without an heir, 
and decided to devote his entire estate to educational uses. In 1820 he rescued 
the Ann Smith Academy from a sheriff's sale by taking up a judgment against 
it of about $3,000. His will begins by saying that "John Robinson, a native of 
the county of Armagh in the north of Ireland, but now a resident of Hart's 
Bottom, in the county of Rockbridge and the state of Virginia, having migrated 
to America just in time to participate in its Revolutionary struggle (which I did 
in various situations) and having since that period by a long, peaceful, and 
prosperous intercourse with my fellow citizens amassed a considerable estate 
which I am desirous of rendering back to them, upon terms most likely to 
conduce to their essential and permanent interests, do therefore will and ordain 

." He endowed a chair of geology and biology, and a clause in the will 

provides that two medals shall be given yearly. With the exception of General 
Washington he was the first considerable benefactor of the college. Mr. Rob- 
inson died in 1826, and in 1855 a monument to his memory was erected on the 
college campus. 

Riiffner. Henry RufFner, son of Colonel David RufFner of Page county, 
and grandson of Peter Ruffner, a German immigrant, was born in Page in 1789. 


He was educated at Wasliington College from which he was graduated in 1817. 
Two years later lie entered the same college as a professor, and also was li- 
censed to the Presbyterian ministry. From 1836 to 1848 he was the college 
president. He then retired to a farm on the Kanawha and ceased preaching a 
year before his death, which took place in 1861. Princeton gave him the degree 
of Doctor of Divinity. Doctor KutTner was an occasional contributor to the 
religious press. His wife was Sarah, daughter of William Lyle of "Oakley" 
on Mill Creek. 

William Henry Ruffner, son of Henry Ruffncr, was born at Lexington in 
1824, and was graduated from Washington College in 1842. He likewise entered 
the Presbyterian ministry, but his only pastorate was in Philadelphia in 1849- 
51. His leanings were very much in the direction of educational alTort and 
scientific study. He devised the free school system adopted by Virginia in 
1870, drafted the organization of the school that became the \'irginia Poly- 
technic Institute, and organized the Farmville State Normal School, of which 
he was president three years. Doctor RufTner twice declined to be made a 
college president, and in 1887 retired to "Tribrook," one mile from Lexington. 
He now gave his attention to geologic research and reports on mineral proper- 
ties. Several volumes, inclusive of Charity and the Clergy, came from his 
pen, and he was a contributor to scientific periodicals. He died in 1908. His 
wife was Harriet G. Gray, of Harrisonburg. 

Sailing. A mist of romance attaches itself to the name of John Peter Sal- 
ling. That individual lived in the heroic age of American history, and therefore 
it is not strange that some embellishment has crept into the narrative contained 
in the volumes written on border history. It is represented that Sailing explor- 
ed the Valley of Virginia as early as 1726, had a long and most eventful captivi- 
ty among the red men, and after his restoration was the pathfinder who drew 
the attention of John Lewis and others to the "New Virginia" beyond the Blue 
Ridge. Accepting the family tradition as being more trustworthy than the 
rhetorical tales we have alluded to, we arrive at the following as the most prob- 
able statement of the whole matter. 

John Peter Sailing was a weaver by trade, and was one of the few Germans 
who settled in Tuckahoc. Hearing of the new country beyond the mountains, 
and being of a venturesome turn. Sailing went on a journey of exploration. He 
was so well pleased with the beautiful Iwltom just above Ualcony Palls that he 
did not think it worth his while to go further. He returned to his home at or 
near Williamsburg and took steps to secure a morsel of this choice land. This 
was probably in 1741. It could scarcely have antedated the coming of the Mc- 
Dowells, since it would have been imprudent to make a solitary settlement forty 
miles from other people. Sailing's earliest patent was not issued till 1746. A 


transfer of a portion of his land names 1741 as the date of patent, but no such 
deed appears to be on record. It would seem that the year of settlement rather 
than the year of patent is the one mentioned in the conveyance. We know that 
Sailing was living here at the time of the McDowell battle in December, 1742. 
And since this incidental mention indicates that he was then at home, it would 
not seem that he was captured earlier than the following spring. While Sailing 
and a companion were prospecting on the Roanoke, the former was taken by 
the Cherokees and remained a prisoner until 1745. He was being sent to 
France as a spy, the struggle known in America as King George's war not yet 
having come to a conclusion. The French vessel was captured by a British 
cruiser, and Sailing was put ashore at Charleston, South Carolina. He now 
made his way back to Virginia, perfected his title to his land, went to live on 
it, and was not again disturbed. 

Traditions agree that during his captivity. Sailing was carried as far as 
the Mississippi and in some way fell into the hands of the French. The more 
florid occount adds that a squaw of Kaskaskia adopted him as a son; that he 
several times journeyed down the Father of Waters, and was purchased by the 
Spaniards as an interpreter; that he was taken to Canada, redeemed by the 
French governor, and turned over to the Hollanders, of New York. 

Henry RufTner states that John Sailing had a brother, Peter Adam Sal- 
ling. This may have been the case, but Doctor RulTner is incorrect in saying 
John vi'as a single man. He had a wife named Ann, and at least five children. 
If there were two Sailings, it was the other who was a bachelor. John Sailing, 
the only pioneer named in the records, had business dealings with the McDow- 
ells. That he was a man of force and consequence is manifest from his being 
commissioned an officer of militia. His will is dated Christmas day, 1754, and 
his death occurred shortly afterward, while he was still in the prime of life. 
Fie appears to have had no near neighbor of his own nationality. He spoke 
broken English, and his two daughters married Henry Fuller and Richard 
Burton. His sons, John and George Adam, had removed to North Carolina by 
1760. probably because of the new Indian war, and only the third son, Henry, 
remained at Balcony Falls. The will, however, mentions an infant grandson of 
the name of John Sailing. It also speaks of one Peter Crotingale as a tenant 
on one of his farms. The personality was appraised at $194.64, and it included 
four horses, four sheep, and twenty-two hogs. The last of tiic Sailings in 
Rockbridge was Peter A., who died without issue in 1856. 

Saville. Abraham and Robert, sons of Samuel Saville, an immigrant from 
England, came to this country about 1770. The latter went witli his family to 
Ohio. The former, who settled on the South Fork of ButTalo, is the ancestor 
of the Savilles of Rockbridge, although several of his own sons went to Ohio. 
The resident connection have generally been farmers or millwrights. 


Smith. General Francis H. Sinitli was born at Norfolk, October 18, 1812. 
and was graduated witii distinction from West Point in 1833. He was then 
placed in tlie artillery service, but soon resigned to accept the chair of niathe- 
nuiics in Ilanipdcii-Sidney College. The position was congenial and it was 
with some reluctance that he accepted a unanimous call to the supcrintcndcncy 
of the newly organized \'irginia Military Institute. His subsequent career is a 
part of the history of the institution over which he presided the extraordinarily 
long period of fifty years. The school was in the nature of an experiment 
when lie became its head. He lived to witness an almost continuous growth, 
and to see it develop into the most famous military school in the United States 
with the single exception of West Point. General Smith died March 21, 1890, 
only three months after his retirement. 

Stuart. Archibald Stuart left Ulster in 1731, and came to the Borden 
Tract in 1738, an amnesty having permitted him to send for his family. His 
wife, Janet, was a sister to the Reverend John Brown. Two sons were Thomas 
and Alexander, the latter born in 1735. Alexander was very tall and strong, 
and wielded a ponderous broadsword in the battle of Guilford, where he was 
wounded and taken prisoner. His son Archibald, who died in 1831 at the age 
of seventy-four, removed to Staunton in 1785. He was the father of Alexan- 
der H. H. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of President Fillmore. 
Robert Stuart of Rockbridge and Judge Alexander Stuart of Missouri were 
brothers to Archibald, a grandson of whom was Uie dashing Confederate cavalry 
leader, General J. E. B. Stuart. 

Taylor. Five brothers of the name of Taylor, — George, James, William, 
John, and Caufield — came from county Armagh, Ireland, and settled in Rock- 
bridge, 1700, investing their money in lands and slaves. John was killed in bat- 
tle, April 25, 1778. Caufield was taken prisoner, but liberated after the sur- 
render of Cornwallis. The four sur\'iving brothers lived in a fine valley at 
the head of Cedar and arc buried there. The wife of William was Janet Paul, 
said to have been a sister to the famous John Paul Jones of the Revolution. 
Admiral Jones was a Paul an<l addec! the name of his foster parent to his sur- 
name by birth. George and James married daughters of Captain Audley Paul. 
The Pauls were conscientiously opposed to slavery, and imparted their scruples 
to the families of these two brothers. Stuart, one of the ynimgcst of the four- 
teen children of James, freed the last of the negroes in that branch of the fam- 
ily. In doing so he gave each freedman $50. 

Hugh P. Taylor, a bachelor son of James, was an attorney and surveyor, 
and is buried at Rockbritlge Baths. .\ love affair inspired him to write a beau- 
tiful poem. He also wrote "Hugh Paul Taylor's Sketches," a historical work 


covering the period, 1740-1781. Much of the material was derived from his 
maternal grandfather, Captain Audley Paul. 

Stuart Taylor, who lived on the brow of Hogback Mountain, a few miles 
from Rockbridge Baths, was a tanner and currier by trade and a mechanical 
genius as well. Like his distinguished son, he was tall, large in frame, and fear- 
less. Several of his hunting exploits have been related to us. Once he was at- 
tacked by wildcats, and another time he had to get upon a fallen tree the better to 
defend himself against some half-wild hogs. In each instance he was in much 
danger. He did not hesitate to go into a bear's den in the winter season, knowing 
that if the animal were not molested while in its lair, it would rush out after get- 
ting awake. His colored man, Joe, was left near the entrance to shoot the 
bear as it ran out. But on one occasion the bear slipped down a hillside in 
Goshen Pass, Taylor and his dogs clinging to the animal's shaggy- back. Man, 
bear, and dogs slid out some distance on the ice which then covered North River, 
and the hunter dispatched the brute with his hunting-knife. Stuart Taylor was 
not a man of education, yet was a forceful local preacher of the Methodist com- 
munion. His wife, Martha E. Hickman, to whom he was married in 1819, was 
a most useful woman in her neighborhood and highly respected. 

William, the oldest son of Stuart Taylor, was born May 2, 1821. He grew 
to manhood, a giant in size and strength, and could win people to his side by his 
feats at a log-rolling. At the age of nineteen he was converted at Shaw's camp- 
ground, and he joined the Methodist Churcli at the Lambert meeting house on 
the Lexington circuit. A year later he was attending school in Lexington. A 
year later yet he taught the Rapp school on the South Branch of Buffalo. Al- 
ready he had been licensed as a local preacher and occasionally conducted di- 
vine service. When admitted to the Baltimore Conference in 1845, his presiding 
elder announced to the assemblage that "here is a young man whom the sun never 
finds in bed." His first field was in Highland county. After six years of circuit 
work, he was assigned to mission efTort in Baltimore and Washington. Already 
he was very successful as an evangelist, and his unusual gift of song was a won- 
derful help to him. In 1851 the young minister was sent to California. The 
three years preceeding had made that state cosmopolitan and a scene of almost 
unprecedented lawlessness. The Sabbath was a carnival of crime and immorality. 
San Francisco, a city of tents and shacks, was perhaps the most corrupt spot on 
earth. The choice proved very wise. Taylor's powerful physique, his abounding 
faith, his tact fulness, and his rare gifts as singer and preacher made him the man 
for the task. The Mission Board did not adequately understand the actual con- 
ditions in that land of high prices, but although Taylor's salary of $700 a year 
was entirely too low, he never complained, nor did he ask his friends in the 
East for a single dollar. He labored seven years in California, making a nation- 


wide reputation as an evangelist. He could accomplish in a few hours what 
others were months in performing. Taylor next preached in every quarter of 
the United States and Canada, and made tours in liritain and other parts of 
Europe. Me then visited South America, Africa, Malaysia, Australia, China, 
Ceylon, and India, two new conferences being the result in the country last named. 
In 1884 he was a delegate from India to the General Conference of the Metlu>dist 
Episcopal Church, and was elected Bishop of Africa. This field he relinquished 
only because of advancing years. Bishnp Taylor had preached more widely 
than any man of the Christian Church in any age. Mis leading road to influence 
among the heathen was through the children. But he was very successful in 
winning over the chiefs, and it was his design to span the Dark Continent with a 
chain of mission stations. His habits were simple. He use dalways a hard pillow, 
and his bedroom window was open, even in zero weather. At a late period in his 
life Bishop Taylor visited his native county and preached in crowded houses. 
His brother Archibald and .Andrew also entered the ministry, the former going 
to California. Bishop Taylor died in that slate in 1902 at the age of enghty-one. 

Tucker. John Randolph Tucker, son of Henry St. George Tucker, was born 
at Winchester, December 24, 182.?. He was graduated from the University of Vir- 
ginia in 1844, and was admitted to the bar the following year. He settled in his 
native town for the practice of his profession and it remained his home until 
1870. except that he was Attorney-General of Virginia in 1857-65. In 1870 he 
came to Lexington as professor of law and equity in Washington College. After 
four years of service in this field he was elected to Congress. He was re-elected 
for six successive terms. In the Forty-Eighth and Forty-Ninth congresses he 
was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and he was eight years on the Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means. In 1887 Mr. Tucker returned to his professorship 
in Washington and Lee University, holding it until his death. I'ebruary 13, 1897. 
Tucker Hall, one of the most imposing of the University buildings, is named in 
his honor. Mr. Tucker was a genial, thoroughly trained gentleman, an orator 
of great power and was regarded as one of the very ablest men of the South. To 
him the law was a science and in constitutional law he was a recognized authority. 
He was honored with the degree of Doctor of Laws by Harvard and Vale Univer- 
sities and by the College of William and Mary. In 1844 Mr. Tucker was married 
to I^ura H. Powell, of I^udoun county. The children of the couple were these: 
Powell, who died in youth ; Evelyn, wife of Wilmer Shields, of Mississippi ; Aime 
H., wife of William P. McGuire of Winchester; Virginia B., wife of John Car- 

michael; Henry St. G.-, of Lexington; Gertrude P., wife of Judge Logan; 

Ijura P.. wife of E. — . M. Pendleton. 

Henry St. George Tucker, Ijorn 1853, took the degree of Master of Arts 
from Washington and I-ee University in 1875. Two years later he settled as 
an attorney at Staunton, but in 18^7 rclunud to I^-xington. and resides on his 
estate of "Colalto." In 1889 Mr. Tucker went to Congress and remained four 


terms. Upon the death of his father he succeeded him as professor of Consti- 
tutional and International Law and Equity. In 1905 he was President of the 
Jamestown Exposition. Mr. Tucker has written a treatise on the treaty-making 
power of the Federal Government, and has edited his father's Tucker on the 

Vethake. Henry Vethake was a native of British Guiana who was gradu- 
ated from Columbia College in 1808. He practiced law and also engaged in edu- 
cational work. In 1835-36 he was president of Washington College, and until 
1859 he held the chair of mental and moral philosophy. He died in 1866 at the 
age of seventy-four. 

Wallace. William A. Wallace, known in American history as "Big Foot" 
Wallace, was born one mile south of Lexington, April 12, 1816. In the fall of 
1837 he heard of the death of a brother at the hands of the Mexicans in the 
Fannin massacre. Leaving his plow and team in the field, he started at once 
for Texas on a mission of vengeance. He was accompanied by James Paxton 
and J. Frank Shields, the former dying in Texas. In the Texan army, ^^^allace 
was a lieutenant of rangers. He accompanied the Mier expedition and was 
captured, but by good fortune he drew a white bean, and thus escaped military 
execution. His captors called him the "Big Foot Gringo," and he was made 
to work a long while on the streets of the City of Mexico. Some time after 
his release he killed "Big Foot," a Lipan warrior, in single combat. Wallace 
made his home near San Antonio, but at length the region became too thickly 
settled to please him, and he went farther west. He visited Rockbridge in 
1850 and again about 1872. He never married, and he died in Texas, January 
8, 1899. Big Foot Wallace did not really have feet of unusual size, considering 
his stature, yet was conspicuous for immense shoulders and a very large head. 
He was a grandson of Colonel Samuel Wallace of the Revolutionary period. 

White. Robert White was born m Ireland in 1775, and came to Lexington 
in 1800, going into the mercantile business. He was a lieutenant in the war 
of 1812, a justice and sheriff, and in politics was a Whig. In 1802 he was mar- 
ried to I\Iargaret, daughter of Zachariah Johnston. His sons were Zachariah 
J. and Robert L. Mr. White died in 1851. 

Woods. Richard Woods settled on Woods Creek in 1738 and gave it its 
name. It is thought that he was a son of Michael Woods, of Albemarle, who 
came to America with nine boys, three brothers and their families, and a 
widowed sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Wallace. Richard Woods was a sheriff and very prominent settler. He seems to have had a brother, Charles, 
who died in 1761, and three sisters, of whom Martha married Peter Wallace, 
and Sarah married Joseph Lapsley. Magdalena was successively the wife of 
Captain John McDowell, Benjamin Borden, Jr., and General John Bowyer. 
The name Woods was represented in Rockbridge until after the opening of the 
nineteenth cetury. 



The Pioneoi MacCoikles— The Rockhsuice Branch— The Name ts Beitais— Lixe or 
John MacCokklb— Biographical Notes 

In the histor)' of the MacCorkles* of Augusta and Rcxrkbridgc arc shown 
several interesting facts, true also of some other pioneer families. We find at 
the outset a number of individuals with the same surname. Some of these are 
soon lost to view. This fact is significant of the ceaseless emigration that 
set in from Old Augusta, even in the first decade of its settlement. For a 
long while this outflow was almost wholly to the westward and southward. 
But during the present industrial era, it is in part directed to the commercial 
centers of the Atlantic seaboard. 

The MacCorkles that clung to the Forks of the James have liccn very large 
landholders in the most favored portion of that district. They are an industrious, 
forceful, intellectual, and religious people. These traits, coupled with a tenacity 
in holding on to a good choice in extensive landed possessions, could not but be 
reflected by prominence in public and professional life. That the men of this 
stock should be prompt in responding to a conviction of patriotic duty follows as 
a matter of course. 

Fven before Augusta set up a county government at the close of 1745, one 
James MacCorklc was living on a survey in Beverly Manor, apparently a few 
miles northeast of Staunton, and between I-ewis and Oiristian's creeks. It would 
appear that in many instances the newcomer did not at once perfect a purchase, 
but held his land for a while on a rental basis. From an ejectment suit brought 
against him by the pro[)rietor of the Manor, he came out victorious. In 1747 
William Beverly gave him a deed for 370 acres, the price being $54.15. But in 
1753 James MacCorkle and Jane, his wife, sold this tract, and we find no mention 
of another purchase. In 1751 the immigrant was a constable, and in the same 
year he and Rol)ert Bratton were the guardians of Archib.ild Crockett of the 
Calf pasture. Ten years later he was one of the appraisers of the valuable 
estate of Adam Dickenson, the leading pioneer of the lower Cowpasture. And 
as both Dickenson and Bratton were men of wealth and position, it follows that 
only a man of proved character and known ability would have In-en appointed to 
these trusts. No will is on record in Augusta, and it is not clear that he is 
again named in the records. It is probable that he died before the Revolution. 

•^Vi^hin RockbridRc it»clf the name ha» uMially been ipclird with the prefix abbrc- 
vitled— McCorkle. DurinK the colonial period the orlhouraphy wa» le!i» (iniform than it it 
now. TTiuj wc find in the public record* the formi McCorkal, McCorkcll, McChorklc. 
McKocle, etc 



In 1770 another James came from Ulster and was a merchant at Staunton. 
A few years later he removed to Montgomery, of which county he was sheriff 
in 1778. He died there in 1794. It was this James who was a trustee of Liberty 
Hall Academy in 1783. He had a brother William, whose daughters were 
Margaret, Martha, and Rebecca. 

We are told that the first James was the parent pioneer, and that his sons 
were Alexander, William, and John. We are further told that Alexander, 
born 1722, died 1800, married Agnes, a daughter of John Montgomery, of 
Harris's Ferry — now Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — and that in 1752 he removed 
to North Carolina, settling fifteen miles west of Salisbury. A great grandson is 
Joseph W. McCorkle, Member of Congress from California. 

But there was a Robert MacCorkle, who purchased of Beverly 269 acres, 
his tract appearing to be contiguous with that of the elder James. In 1752 he 
sold this land and went away, perhaps accompanying Alexander to North Caro- 
lina. There was also a Samuel, who in 1749 was a close neighbor to James and 
Robert. He may have been the Samuel who died in Augusta in 1785. The name 
of his wife was Sarah, and his children, at least two of whom were then mar- 
ried, were John, Mary, Martha, Samuel, Robert, Sarah, and Elizabeth. Samuel, 
Jr., seems to have left Augusta by 1796. Still another of the early McCorkles was 
Patrick, who in 1759 witnessed a deed given by Samuel Steele to Robert Steele, 
and in 1762 a deed by Benjamin Bennett to John McNutt. It was probably 
the same Patrick who helped to build a road in the south of the Rockbridge area 
in 1753, and who sold a parcel of land to Samuel Lyle in 1778. 

Among the above mentioned MacCorkles we meet the same given names as 
occur in the Rockbridge line that we shall presently trace. Several of them 
were near neighbors to one William McNutt, and a McNutt became the wife 
of John MacCorkle. It was characteristic of the Scotch-Irish pioneers to come 
to America in bodies and not as isolated individuals. It is highly probable 
that the younger MacCorkles we first encounter in this region were the sons 
of two brothers, James and William, one or both of whom accompanied the 

The Alexander MacCorkle who settled in the Forks of James may therefore 
have been a cousin to the one already named. One or the other is mentioned 
in the appraisement of the estate of Andrew Boyd in 1750. Boyd appears to 
have lived near Old Providence Church. The first certain mention is in 1753, 
when he and Patrick worked on the road already spoken of. In 1757 he was an 
administrator of the estate of Robert Rcnick, who had been killed by the Indians. 
In 1761 he purchased 300 acres in the Borden Tract, and in 1766 conveyed one- 
half of this to Patrick MacCorkle. In 1768 he was given a bounty certificate 
for growing 1712 pounds of hemp, a quantity above the average for the colonial 

280 A HISTORY or K0CKBRUX:E CUL'N'TY. vircinma 

planter. No will is on record, and his name docs ni>l ajunar among the tax- 
payers for 1778. Tiie inference is that l)e died near the heginning of tin- KivmIu- 
lion, and when he was in tlic prime of life. 

The wife of Alexander, ancestor of the MacCorklcs of Rockbridge, was 
Mary Steele. The children of the pair were James, John, William, and Nancy, 
and perhaps also a Samuel, since there was a tithahle by this name in Rock- 
bridge in 1778. James married Margaret McCoIlom. John married Rebecca, a 
daughter of John McNutt and aunt to Governor Alexander G. McNutt, of Mis- 
sissippi. William, who lived on HIiiott's llill and died in 1818, is described as 
a recluse of eccentric disposition. His first wife, the mother of his children, 
was a McClucr. The second, whom he married in 1802, was Ann, a daughter 
of Captain .\udlcy Paul and widow of the prandf.itlKT of I'ishop William 

The children of James were six. William, horn 1762. died 1847, was married 
to Nancy Welch in 1799. Patrick married Margaret Weeks, 1804. John went to 
Ohio. Elizabeth married Samuel Hamilton, 1811. The others of the family 
were James and Alexander, the latter of whom lived in Collicrstown. The nine 
children of William were the only representatives of the next generation within 
this county. Of these, Eliza and Jane were unmarried. Nancy, Benjamin, 
Margaret, Samuel, Thomas, Sally, and William H. married, in the order of their 
mention. Samuel .Adair, Mary Adair, William Morrison, Mary Simonds, Susan 
A. Harper, John Patterson, and N'irginia Wilson. The sons of licnjamin were 
W'illiam A., John, Henry C, and Oliver C. John and Oliver C. are unmarried. 
William A. and Henry married, respectively. Jennie McMasters ami Ida O'fTey. 
The daughters were Sallie and Anna. Sallie was the first and Anna the second 
wife of Alexander Harrison. The children of Samuel were William A., 
Samuel B., Sallie, Margaret, Nancy, and Manic. The third, fourth, and fifth mar- 
ried in the order of their names, William H. Sale, John Dixon, and Samuel 
Mackcy. Samuel B. resides in Staunton. William A. married a Davidson. His 
children, who are the only grandchildren of Samuel to remain in Rockbridge, arc 
Carrie, William A., Gold. Stuart, and Daniel. Carrie married Ward Whitmcr. 
and Gold married Mattie Swink. The first wife of William A., Jr., was a 
Davidson. The second was Agnes Gold. The children of Thomas, who died in 
1879 .It the age of seventy-five, went to Ohio. The descendants of William H. 
are hereinafter named. 

The children of John, son of Alexander, the pioneer, were Alexander, Sam- 
uel, and Catharine. The daughter married Joseph Walker. 1804. an<l went 
West with him. .Samuel married Catharine McCluer. 1804. and <lie<l 183.^ leaving 
three children, John, Alexander, and Agnes. The daughter was then married 
to a McGucr. Alexander went West. It was not then known what had become 

Wm. a. M.mCorki.e 
Governor of Wi-st X'irKinia 18<).^ to lf<97 



of John. The names and the dates of birth of the children of Alexander and 
his wife, Mildred Welch, appear later in this chapter. Mildred was a sister to 
Nancy. Of the ten children, Sally married James Wilson, 1814; John was mar- 
ried to Elizabeth Mackey, 1820, and later to a Cunningham; Samuel, to a 
Douglass, and afterward to a Perry; Thomas, to Susan Alexander; Alexander 
B. to Lucilla Gamble ; Patsy, to James W. Wilson ; Jane, to James West ; William, 
to Mary H. Morrison; Rebecca to Baxter Braford. Samuel, who had a large 
family, removed to Lynchburg. Two sons of John lost their lives in military 
service: Alexander C. at Monterey, Mexico, and James T. at First Manassas. 
The other children — George B., W. D., and Nannie — married, respectively, 
Mary McCullough, Aurelia Sterrett, and MofTett McClung. The children of 
George B. are Lelia, wife of a Doctor Burks, and Emma, Julia, and George, 
whose consorts are a Walker, a Smylie, and a Humphreys. The children of W. 
D. are Aurelia and Douglass. Thomas, third son of John, had six children: 
Thomas E., S. W., Alfred, Jennie, Mildred, and Margaret. All these married, 
their companions being, in order, an Anderson, Lula Strain, Mary V. Hutton. Wil- 
liam Sterrett, Rice McNutt, and James Montgomery. The children of S. W. are 
Margaret, wife of Thomas Morrison, of Bluefield, West Virginia; Susie, 
wife of Samuel Dunlap, of Lexington, Virginia; Baxter, husband of Essie 
Kerr, Eldred, husband of Jennie Watson, and living at Red Ash, West Virginia ; 
Morton, married to Nina Paxton and living near Lexington, Virginia ; Samuel, 
married to Susanna Franc and living at Lewisburg, West Virginia; Thomas. 
serving in the United States Navy ; and Lula, wife of H. E. Moore, of Rock- 
bridge. Sadie, daughter of Thomas E., married C. C. Boppell. and died in 
Africa, where she was laboring as a missionary. A. C., son of Doctor Alfred 
McCorkle, married Grace Montgomery, and his only grandson in Rockbridge 
is A. C., Jr., of Collierstown. The children of Alexander B., who became a 
Presbyterian minister about 1836, were Gamble, William P., and Sallie. William 
P. is a Presbyterian minister. 

William, third son of Alexander the pioneer, had four sons and four daugh- 
ters. The sons were Alexander, John, Abner, and Henry. John, who was bom 
1777 and died 1846, was married to Polly Montgomery in 1800. but was without 
issue. Three of the daughters were Phoebe, Patsy, and Nancy. The first mar- 
ried James Elliott in 1809. Patsy appears to have married James Taylor in 1805, 
and Nancy to have married Archibald Taylor in 1812. William P., a son of 
Henry, was graduated from Washington College in 1847. He was editor of 
the Valley Star and of the Lynchburg Republican. 

With respect to the following marriages of MacCorkles. we arc unable to 
tell what may be the point of contact with the descendants of Alexander. 

Alexander to Sally Peters. 1822; Esther to William Porter, 1799; Jean to 


James Donald, 1805; James to Polly McGain. 1821 ; John to Sally Cunningham, 
1821; Nancy to Samuel Paxton, 1825; Polly to John Adair, 1808; Polly to 
William Hamilton, 1800. 

In tlif early records of Augusta there arc these three MacCorkle marriages: 
John to Lydia Forrest. 1790; Mary of John to John McWhorter. 1791 ; Robert to 
Elizabeth Forrest. 1785. 

There are few families in the United States, and in the Old Countries, whose 
history can be traced back as far as the history of the MacCorklcs. \Vc find 
branches of this old family in Canada and all over the United States, especially 
in the middle and Eastern States, and in Virginia. We find other branches in 
England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and Denmark. All these families use 
a coat of arms that shows, although differing slightly, the same main features, i. c. 

Crest : A stag, standing at gaze, attired gules ; 

Arms: A dcmi-stag, gules, naissanf out of a fcsse tortillc; 

Motto : Vivat Rex ! 

The difference between the arms is so slight that there is no doubt that these 
families belong together. Only the Danish branch of the family uses another coat 
of arms, but here are the complete historical evidences that it is the same 
family. The name is spelled in many different ways, but ctymologically it is the 
same name. The following shows the dcvclopnicnt and the changes of the 
family name. The oldest form that could be traced is Thorgisl, in the Thorgisl 
Saga, about 700 A. D. This name changes in Thurkcll, Thurkill. Thorkill. 
Thorquil, (Thurgesius, in the I^tin text), Torquil. Thorquil-dale. Mac Torquil- 
dale, Mac Korkill-dale, McCorkindale, McCorquindall. McCorkuodell. McCor- 
quedill, McCorkell. McCorkcl. MacCorkle. 

All these names appear in the old manuscripts. lx)oks. and inscriptions, and 
we find the different names in all the countries where members of the family live. 
The different branches did not keep a certain spelling. They arc scattered all 
over the civilized world, using different spellings of their name, but all tracing 
back to the same family. The name that is mostly used by the branches in the 
United States is McCorklc, MacCorkle, or McCorkell. 

Anderson's History of the Scottish Nation says: 

MacCorquodale, othcrwi»f Mac Toruil (the son of Torqiiill). Mac Corklr. or Corkin- 
dalc, the jurnamc of a lliKl'land »cpt, the founder of which wa» Torquil, a prince of 
Denmark, who ii tradilifinally ttated to have been in the army of Kenneth the Great, on hit 
CotninR over from Ireland to the astittancc of .Mpin, king of llie Scot*. agaiKNt the Pict». 
Prcviou* to Kenneth't arrival, KinK Alpin, in a battle with the Pictish king, was killed, and 
hit head fixed on an iron ipike in the midil of the Pictith city, sittiated where the Carron 
ironwork! now ttand. King Kenneth offered to any one in hit army who would pass the 
Pictish sentinels and remove the head, a Rrant of all the land on L»Kh .Awe side. Torquil, 
the Dane, undertook the hazardous enterprise, and brought the head to the king, for 
which act of bravery, he was rewarded by a charier of the lands promised. This charter 



was for a long time preserved in the family, though the greater part of the lands had 
passed to other hands. Shortly before the Revolution it was lent to Sir Alexander Muir 
MacKenzie, for his inspection, and was lost. At least, it disappeared from that time. 
The name, which is, in some places of the Highlands, still called Mac Torquil, is perhaps 
one of the most ancient in the county of Argyle. Donald McCorjuodale of Kinna-Drochag, 
on Loch .\we side, who died towards the end of the eighteenth century, was the lineal 
descendant of Torjuil and the chief of the clan; his grandson and representative, John 
McCorjuodale, at one period, resided at Row, Dungartonshire. The heirs of John McCor- 
quodale afterwards lived in Row. The last lineal descendant afterwards moved to London, 
where he died a few years ago. 

In the great Scottish invasion of North Ireland the family moved to County 
Derry, where a great many of them have resided ever since. 

In about 1730 William MacCorkle came to America. He landed at Philadel- 
phia and moved down to the Valley of Virginia and Southern Ohio. He was 
engaged in the Indian wars in what is now western Virginia. He had a son, 
Alexander, who purchased from Archibald Alexander, executor of Benjamin 
Borden, the tract of land known as the "MacCorkle Farm" on North River. 
Alexander MacCorkle conveyed one half of this farm to his son John. This 
deed was partially proved at Finncastle and docketed. A month afterwards 
Alexander McNutt appeared at Court at Finncastle and completed the proof. 
This was just before the marriage of John MacCorkle to Rebecca McNutt. 

Governor Patrick Henry appointed John MacCorkle an ensign, and the 
records of Rockbridge County Court show : 
State of Virginia, 

At a Court held for Rockbridge County the 7th day of July, 1778. 

John MacCorkle, produced a commission from his Excellency the Governor, appointing 
him Ensign in a Company of the Militia for this County, who took the oath required by the 

In October, 1780, he made his will providing for his wife and three children, 
Alexander, the oldest, and for one not yet born. Then he joined the army in 
Carolina under General Morgan. Hon. William A. -Vnderson quotes an interest- 
ing incident arising from his going into the army: 

Nov. 28, 1903. 
Hon. W. A. MacCorkle: 

Charleston, \V. Va. 
My dear Sir : 

It was a pleasure to me to receive your kind letter of the 1 7th inst., and I gladly give 
you all the information I have about the interesting subject to which it refers. .Ml that I 
know about it was learned from my father and uncles. 

My grandfather. Colonel William Anderson, died several years before I was born. 
When a mere youth, he volunteered in a company from Botetourt County, was in the battle 
of Cowpens and other engagements, under Generals ^^organ and Greene, and served through 
that Southern campaign in 1780-1. He was a first cousin of your great grandfather. 


Lieutenant John MacCorklc's wife your great grandmother, but some year* hii junior. 
Both IJcutenant MacCorklc and his brother-in-law and my father's first cousin. Lieutenant 
or MnsiKii McNutt, si)ent the night at my great Rrandfalhcr's (their uncle's) home, as 
their com(>any from Rockbridge was passing throuKh that i>orlion of Botetourt County on 
their way to join the army of the South, some time in the year 1780. My grandfather, who 
was his father's oldest son, was exceedingly anxious to join his cousins and go with them 
to the war. He was only about seventeen years of age, and. as his father was frequently 
called from home to meet the Indian raids, (Botetourt County being then almost upon 
the frontier), his parents felt that they could not safely allow this stalwart son (he was 
over six feet in height) to leave them; and they considered that he was too young (vigorous 
and enured to hardships as he was) to encounter the exiHjsiire to which the Continental 
troops were necessarily subjected. They earnestly opposed his request, but he was so im- 
portunate that, two days after the Rockbridge Company had continued its march across 
the Blue Ridge mountains, towards North Carolina, they finally yielded to his impor- 
tunity, and he struck out alone, through what was then largely a wilderness, and in due 
time joined his relatives and afterwards the Botetourt Company under the command. I 
think, of Captain Bowyer. some time before the battle of Cowpens, and was in that battle, 
as also was the Rockbridge Company. In that battle. Lieutenant MacCorkle was wounded 
in the foot, was carried, with those of Morgan's troops who afterwards participated in 
the battle of Guilford, to that vicinity, and there died of lock jaw, and was buried at or near 
Guilford, whether before or after that battle. I am unable to say. My grandfather was, 
of course, present at his funeral. 

Many years afterwards, perhaps as many as forty, a man. whom my grandfather did 
not at the time recognize and who I think was named Lemon, came to him and asked 
him to certify to the fact that he (Lemon) had served with the Botetourt Company in that 
fight, so that he might obtain a pension. My grandfather coiild not recall him, but I^mon 
told him he could mention certain incidents that would satisfy him that he (Lemon) was 
with the army of Oneral Greene, and was at the battle of Cowpens and at Guilford. One 
of the incidents I^mon mentioned to him was that, at the battle of Cow|)ens, General 
Morgan commanded his troops not to fire until he gave the order, .ind then to aim at the 
knee buckles, which were conspicuous upon the knees of the British soldiers. A young 
man in the Botetourt Company, before General Xforgan gave the order to fire, had leveled 
hii rifle and was taking aim at the British, who were then rapidly approaching General 
Morgan's lines, and were then in point blank range. General Morgan cursed this young 
*oldier, asking biin "what in hell" he meant by violating his orders; and the Vdung soldier, 
with tears running down his cheeks, said. "General. I'm not going to fire; I'm just taking 
good aim." This man I^mon told my grandfather that he (Lemon) was this young soldier. 
My grandfather remembered the incident distinctly, and perhaps, then recalled that the 
man's name was Lemon. 

Mr. Ix-mon told my grandfather that, afterwards, at or near Guilford, he (Lemon) was 
present at the funeral of Lieutenant MacCorkle, and that, when the body was being let 
down into the grave, the coflTm caught uiK.n a root, or some other obstruction, so that 
the coffin could not be proi)crly lowered into position. My grandfather remembered the 
occurrence distinctly; and up«in these and other statements made to him by Mr. Lemon, was 
so convinced that he must have been at Cow|>en» and in the Botetourt Company that he 
felt ju«tified in signing, and did sign, his certificate. 

I received the history of these occurrences more than once from my father, and from 
my uncle, John T. Anderson, and I think also from my uncle. Joseph R Anderson; and I 
h«ve no doubt that my cousins, William Glasgow, Miss Rebecca Glasgow, Mrs. Kate 

THE m'corkle family 285 

Paxton, Miss Margaret Glasgow, and Colonel Archer Anderson, or some of them, have re- 
peatedly heard the same account from my uncles, or from my aunt, Mrs. Catherine 
Glasgow. Cousin Rebecca and her brothers and sisters were double kin to Lieutenant 
MacCorkle, and probably learned other incidents as to his history and heroic services, which 
were not communicated to me. He was one of the immortal band, who, under General 
Morgan, achieved the great victory at Cowpens — an event which contributed as much to 
break the force of the invasion of the Southern States as any other, except King's Moun- 

Cordially yours, 

(Signed) William A. Anderson. 

A letter from John MacCorkle. from Charlotte, N. C, is interesting: 

Charlotte, N. C, Nov. 8th day, 1780. 
My dear Wife: 

I have long for an opportunity to write to you, but have never yet been so fortunate 
as to have any way to send the letter. I have written letters and left them at different 
places. Perhaps you may get some of them. I am well at present, thanks be to God 
for his mercies to me, and I hope these few lines may find you and all my near and dear 
connections in the same state of health. 

On the 7th day of November we arrived at headquarters, about ten miles below 
Charlotte, where Major General Smallwoods regiment was in camp; but we are to join 
Colonel Morgan's light infantry, and we cannot tell how soon we must march from here, 
we expect to do most of the fighting. 

The enemy have left Charlotte. Part of them went to Camden, and crossed the 
Catawba River. Some think they are on their way to Charleston. 

We got to Hillsborough the 4th day of October, about ten o'clock ; and that day we 
marched six miles on our way to Gilford. I did not then have time to write you. At 
Guilford I had the opportunity of seeing Colonel William Campbell, who informs me 
that he defeated Ferguson, and out of 1,125, he killed and took 1,105 English and Tories. 
The loss on our side was not great — only 28 killed and wounded. 

Nathaniel Dryden was killed and three of the Edmundsons. 

Being at such a distance, I almost think myeslf buried to you, not having many oppor- 
tunities to write. If yau can write to me, you must do so. Write in care of Captain 
James Gilmore's company of militia, under General Morgan. Remember me to all my 
friends and neighbors. You may inform my neighbors that their sons, Alexander and 
Robert McNutt, Trimble, Moore, and Alexander Stuart, are well. 

I add no more at present, but remain 

Your loving husband, 

John MacCorkle. 

In 1781, John MacCorkle was severely wounded at the battle of Cowpens, 
and died. He was buried with military honors. Colonel William Anderson re- 
ferred to it as the first burial lie ever witnessed with military honors. Colonel 
Anderson was a first cousin of Rebecca, John MacCorklc's wife. His father and 
Rebecca MacCorkle were brother and sister. 

John MacCorkle married Rebecca McKutt in 1771. Rebecca McNutt's 
father, John McNutt, married Catharine Anderson in Ireland and moved to 



America, settling in Rockbridge County, then Augusta County, on North River. 
He owned the farm afterwards owned by Tliomas Ednmndson near Ben Salem. 

John MacCorkle was the father of three children. .Alexander MacCorklc, 
Samuel MacCorklc, and Kathcrine MacCorklc, (Walker). 

Alexander MacCorklc, son of John MacCorkle, was born August 7, 177J. 
His wife was Mildred Welch, of Fancy Hill. Mildred Welch was a daughter 
of Thomas Welch, who married Sarah Grigsby, who was a daughter of John 

John Grigsby was born in 1720, and accompanied I^wrencc Washington with 
Admiral Vernon in the expedition against Carthagcnia. This was one of the 
events of Governor Gooch's adniinistration, and as taken in connection with 
the other colonics, it was part of the ultimate union. 

John Grigsby 's ancestors came to this country in 1660, which seems to 
be the most reliable date. They lived in Stafford County, Virginia, but Grigsby, 
in the autumn of 1779, moved to Rockbridge County, then .Augusta, and settled 
on Fruit Hill place, where John Grigsby died on April 7, 1794. 

The children of .Alexander MacCorkle and Mildred Welch MacCorklc, 
were : 

Sally McCorkle, born January 1, 1795, died 1842. 

Jno. MacCorklc, born February 14, 1797. 

Sam'l MacCorklc. born August 30. 1800. 

Thos. MacCorkle, born May 21, 1804. 

Alex. MacCorklc, born October 15, 1806. 

Martha MacCorkle, born April 4. 1809. 

Jane MacCorkle, born February 22. 1812. 

Mildred MacCorkle. born March 6, 1815. 

William MacCorkle, born October 25. 1815, (1817?), died February 28. 1864. 

Rebecca V.. MacCorkle, born April 3, 1820. 

Alexander MacCorklc was for more than forty years an elder in the Pres- 
byterian Cliurch at Lexington, Virginia. He was a captain in the War of 1812, 
and was one of the most respected men in the Valley of Virginia. 

William MacCorkle, son of .Alxcaiider MacCorkle. married Mary Hester 
Morrison, of Rockbridge County. Virginia. The issue of this marriage were 
three children: 

William Alexander MacCorkle, born May 7, 1857; Alvin Davidson Mac- 
Corklc, bom F'ebruary 10, 1862, and Willie May MacCorkle, born May 7, 1864. 

William MacCorklc was a major in the Confederate army in service under 
General Price. He was president of the North River Navigation Company, and 
constructed much of the canal work in the county on the North River, and he was 
one of the directors of the James River and Kanawha River Canal Company. 
In that early day he was engaged in developing the Valley of Virginia. 

TiiE m'corkle family 287 

Mary Hester Morrison, the wife of William MacCorkle, was a daughter of 
William Morrison, of Kerr's Creek. Her mother, Margaret Morrison, was a 
daughter of William MacCorkle. Mary Hester Morrison was a woman of vast 
determination and great energy and sweetness of character. At the death of her 
husband, in the last year of the war of 1861, she was left penniless among 
strangers. She never ceased for one minute giving her full energies to the rais- 
ing and education of her children, and devoted her life to this object. The farm 
given by Alexander MacCorkle to his son John, remained in the MacCorkle 
family until about the time of the War of 1860. 

William Alexander MacCorkle, the son of William MacCorkle, married 
Belle Farrier Goshorn September 19, 1881. From that union there were six chil- 
dren : William Goshorn MacCorkle, born July 18, 1882 ; Eliza Daggett MacCorkle, 
born November 10, 1884; a daughter, (died in early infancy), born December 
20, 1885; Kenneth MacCorkle, born December 20, 1886, (died in infancy); 
Isabelle Brooks MacCorkle, born February 20, 1890; an infant, born February 
22, 1891. Of these children, William MacCorkle and Isabelle Brooks MacCorkle 
are alive. 

William Alexander MacCorkle was Prosecuting Attorney of Charleston, 
West Virginia, from 1881 to 1886; Governor of West Virginia from 1892 to 
1898; State Senator from 1908 to 1912. Pie has held many other places of trust, 
has published a number of books, and is and has been for many years the head 
of many operations for the development of West Virginia. 

W'illiam Goshorn MacCorkle, son of William Alexander MacCorkle, now a 
lieutenant in the U. S. army, in the world war, married Margaret Lyle, of Timber 
Ridge, Virginia. From this union there are four children, Eliza Daggett Mac- 
Corkle, born December 16, 1906; Margaret Lyle MacCorkle, born March 28, 
1908; Hester Morrison MacCorkle, born October 13, 1909; William Alexander 
MacCorkle, born June 12, 1913; Samuel Lyle MacCorkle, born June 23, 1914; 
Torquil MacCorkle, bom January 31, 1916, and William MacCorkle, born January 
19, 1918, who are living, and William Alexander MacCorkle, and Hester Mor- 
rison MacCorkle, who are dead. 

The MacCorkle family was for a hundred years about the largest family 
in Rockbridge County. It is connected with a great number of prominent families 
in the Valley of Virginia and the Piedmont section. In the Confederate army 
there were more than two hundred of the name and relation of the MacCorkle 
family, and the MacCorkle family has furnished the largest connected family 
who are alumni of Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Virginia. 
They have produced many distinguished preachers and developers of the country, 
and have wrought manfully for Virginia. It is probably one of the largest con- 
nected families in the United States, and everywhere they have shown about the 
same characteristics of energy, determination, and patriotism. 


Alexander MacCorklc and his sons acquired a fine agricultural domain 
a little distance southeast of Lexington. The original tract is drained by Borden's 
Kun and skirts North River several miles. The ancestral homes of the family 
arc five. On a hill was a brick mansion with a double jwrch facing the rising 
sun and conunanding a magnificent view of the Blue Ridge. A second lay to the 
northward on the old road to Lexington. A third lay just below the afore- 
said hill and on the road to North River. In 1838 it was the tavern of John 
AfcCorkle, and in that year was made a polling place. This John was sheriff 
in 1840-4L A fourth was where Oliver C. McCorkle and his sister, Mrs. Anna 
Harrison, now reside. The fifth conies next on the road to Lexington, and was 
occupied by William McCorkle and his son, William 11. In each instance, 
the original house was of logs, and in each instance except the fourth was 
followed by a brick dwelling. All these were the homes of Bible-reading, 
church-going people, who were intelligent, fond of reading, interested in the 
general weal, and given to the kindest hospitality. 

William IL, youngest of the nine children of William and Nancy McCorkle, 
sprang on the maternal side from the Welch and Grigsby families. Thomas 
Welch, his mother's father, established at Fancy Hill a wayside inn that was 
sometimes a meeting point for the I-cxington presbytery. The early education 
of William H. was gained through the primitive yet thorough methods of the 
old field school. Some special branches were followed still further by private 
study, his fund of knowledge making him a safe adviser and interesting talker. 
He inherited Highlands, the family homestead, and cared tenderly for his aged 
mother, two years a helpless cripple in consequence of a fall, and for two 
sisters, one of them also an invalid. He was unfit for regiilar field service in 
the civil war, but gave generously of his time, means, and labor to the cause 
of the Confederacy. He hauled ammunition to Huntersvillc in 186L sent men 
to work on the fortifications around Richmond, and took part in the tours of the 
Home Guards. Mr. McCorkle was of quiet manner, and was reserved in 
demonstrations of affection. He was a man of fine judgment, strict integrity, 
ami untiring energy". He was neighborly, and was one of the most widely known 
and most highly esteemed citizens of his county. In the antebellum days he was a 
Whig. For near thirty years he was an ehler of the Ben Salem church. He and 
his wife held lofty ideals Ix-forc their children, and spared no pains to give 
them .in education. Mr. McCorkle died in 1802 .it the age of seventy-two years. 

H the history of the family were extended into the female lines of descent, 
the accession of conspicuous names would be interesting. Lack of space forbids 
more than casual mention. \'irginia, the eleventh of the thirteen children of 
James and Sallie (McCorkle) Wilson, marrierl \\ illiam H. McCorkle, September 
11, 1850. Her afTability, consideration for the welfare of others, and her knowl- 

Kf.v. II \V. MiCoKki.K, D. 1).. AMI Son 
Tlu- iiiily iiKiiilicrs of tlie immedialc family now rcsidt-nl in lli<- comity. 

Natisai. RmiKe. ix Rm khridge Cocjcn* 

THE m'corkle family 289 

edge of past events pleased both the young and the old. She was a remarkable 
woman, a faithful wife, and devoted mother, who lived for her home and her 
children, as well as her church and community. Robert, a son of her sister Julia, 
who married Andrew Morrison, is the present sheriff of Rockbridge. Mary, 
another sister, married James Poague, and one of her daughters is Mrs. Sallie 
Lane, wife of a missionary to Brazil. 

Eliza, a sister to William H., died New Year's day, 1882, aged seventy-four. 
Her memory was stored with interesting facts pertaining to pioneer manners 
and customs. A reminiscence of her grandfather's inn was the visit by a 
German duke and his retinue in the fall of 1825. The foreigner was on his way 
to the Natural Bridge, and afterward wrote a two-volume work on his observa- 
tions in America. Miss MacCorkle was a faithful member of the Ben Salem 
church from its organization in 1845. She was cheerful, affectionate, unselfish, 
reverent, and industrious. 

The children of William H. McCorkle, in addition to two boys who died in 
infancy, were Charles E., Walter L., Emniett W., Alice W., William H., and 
Henry H. 

Charles E. McCorkle, born August 22, 1852, entered Washington College 
as a student. At the time of the funeral of General Lee he was recovering from 
an attack of typhoid fever, but insisted on marching with the students in the 
procession. An attack of meningitis supervened, and a long and severe illness 
left him a paralytic from the hips downward. It was felt by some of his friends 
that his struggle for life was little better than a drawn battle. But though he 
could now move only in his wheel-chair or in a carriage, it was not in this young 
man to accept his crippled situation as a total defeat and pass the rest of his 
days in bitterness of spirit and useless repining. He continued to be cheerful 
and pleasant. He had the more time for reading and study, and this time 
was diligently improved. He became a very well-informed man. In public 
and political matters he took a keen interest, and was known as one of the 
staunchest Democrats in his part of the state. Mr. McCorkle wrote much for 
the newspapers and magazines, and in the local history and genealog\- of Rock- 
bridge he was a recognized authority. His letter in behalf of a monument to 
the Confederate dead of Botetourt is not only beautifully written, but is elo- 
quent and is pervaded by an intense earnestness. Yet he was no mere book- 
worm. He was a practical man, and managed the paternal homestead with 
much success. 

In 1898 S. II. Letcher resigned as State Senator to become Judge of the 
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. Mr. McCorkle entered the contest and secured the 
Democratic nomination for the vacant place. His active canvass enabled him 
to carry every county in his district except Highland. His majority was 322 


in Ilis home county and 5.W in the district. 1 he opposition party refrained from 
putting forward a direct nominee. Hut the fears of some of his friends tliat 
the excitement of a session of the Legislature would prove too much for his 
physical condition turned out to be well founded. The journey to the capital 
was itself a considerable tax on his strength, and he answered only two roll- 
calls. After a short illness he died at Richmond, December 14, 1899, closing a 
life that was useful and well spent and a blessing to his community. 

In 1879 Walter L. McCorkIc took the degree of LL. B. from the I^w School 
of Washington and Lee University. He at once began the practice of his 
profession at Maysvillc, Kentucky, but in 1881 he sought a wider opportunity in 
the city of New York. He was first associated with the firm of Miller and Peck- 
ham, and later with Elliott F. Shepard. In 1886 he opened an office for 
himself, his present business address being 100 Broadway. During his long 
residence in the American metropolis, Mr. McCorkle has been concerned in 
much important litigation. lie soon won a reputation as a trial lawyer, but for 
some years has given his attention to corporation, financial, and equity matters. 
As an organizer and counselor his industry, shrewdness, business foresight, and 
genial personality have made him highly successful. He has been counsel, 
ever since its beginning, of the Produce Building and Loan Association. During 
four years he was president of the New York Southern Society. This is one 
of the most influential of the city's social organizations. He is also a member 
of the New York State Bar Association. Mr. McCorkle was married in 1888 to 
Miss Margaret Qiescbrough. Their son, Robert C, is a graduate of l^fayette 
College, and during the present war has been a junior lieutenant in the United 
States Navy. He married Gertrude Schmidt, and has one child, Robert C, Jr. 

Emmett W. McCorkIc was bom August 28, 1855. He was graduated from 
Washington and Lee University in 1873, and from Union Theological Seminary 
in 1878, his licensure as a Presbyterian minister t.iking the same year. 
In 1880 he was called to Clifton Forge, then a mission field with neither church 
organization nor house of worship. When he left in 1902 there were more than 
300 members, a church building free of debt, and a manse. There were also 
organizations and church buildings at Lowmoor, Ix)ngdale, Iron Gate, and 
Sharon. During the next eight years he was pastor at Nicholasvillc, Kentucky. 
Since 191 1 he has been pastor of Bcthesda Cliurch in his native county. Doctor 
McCorkIc is a very busy man, and his vacations are usually given to missions 
for his church. He has visited Europe three times, once in 1888, as a dele- 
gate to the Centenary of Foreign Missions in 1-ondon, and twice as a representa- 
tive to the Pan-Prishyterian Council. On the last occa.<iion he traveled as far as 
Egypt and Palestine, touring the Holy Land on hor.seback. He has served as of imjiortant foreign missionary committees in both presbytery and 
synofl. ami has been president of the Rockbridge County Sunday School Conven- 
tion, bringing that organization to a high state of efTiciency. He has done much 



evangelistic work, and has written The Scolch-Irish in Virginia, The Spirit of 
Progress in the Presbyterian Symbols, and much else in church literature. In 
1899, he was married to Miss Mary L. Bryant, an accomplished teacher and one 
of the founders of the Clifton Forge Seminary. To them have been born one 
son, Emmett, W., Jr. 

Alice \\. McCorkle married John T. Dunlop, a Maryland soldier who set- 
tled on a farm near Buena Vista and represented this country in the General 
Assembly. Soon after his death, Mrs. Dunlop took charge of the Orphan's Home 
of the American Inland Mission at Clay City, Kentucky. Since leaving this posi- 
tion she has been doing very efficient work as pastor's assistant in the First 
Presbyterian Church of Asheville, North Carolina. 

William Howard McCorkle, born May 9, 1861, studied two years in Wash- 
ington College, and in 1883 settled as a farmer and stockman in Fayette county, 
Kentucky. At length he removed to Lexington, where he followed several years 
the wholesale and retail mercantile business. A political career began in 1892. 
He was then elecetd a member of the General Council of Lexington under 
the administration of Mayor Henry T. Duncan, father of General George B. 
Duncan of the present war. During this term he was chairman of the Ways 
and Means Committee. Since then he has been almost continuously in public 
life, serving as president of the Board of Aldermen, president of the Lexington 
Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Lexington Board of Education. 
He was also a chairman of the County Board of Equalization. He was very 
instrumental in inducing the American Tobacco Company to locate its first 
warehouse in Lexington. This step has resulted in Lexington becoming the 
largest loose-leaf tobacco market in the world. Under Mayor Skain, Mr. 
McCorkle became superintendent of Public Works, and when Lexington adopted 
the commission form of government in 1912, he was at once assigned to the 
Department of Public Works, and this position he is still filling. He is also 
Vice-Mayor. His popularity and efficiency are evidenced by the fact that when- 
ever he has stood for the office of city commissioner he has run ahead of his 
ticket. During his six years as Commissioner of Public Works, he has built 
twenty-eight miles of improved streets, two large viaducts, and completed the 
city's sewerage system. He has also constructed a modern sewage disposal plant 
at a cost of more than $200,000. The city owns and operates its own street- 
cleaning equipment, and is one of the first in the South to use a motor-driven 
sweeper. The first wife of Mr. McCorkle was Sarah McMichael. In 1902 
he was married to Mrs. Jean T. Miller, of Canton, Ohio. 

Henry H. McCorkle was educated at Washington and Lee University. After 
being admitted to the bar he went to New York, and since then has been asso- 
ciated in the practice of law with his brother, Walter L. His wife was Bessie 
Glasgow, of this county. 

The MacCorkles have made a very honorable record in tlie American wars. 


At least two of the three sons of Alexander the pioneer served under General 
Morgan in th campaign of 1780-81, one as a licuetnant and one as an ensign. 
The American loss in the brilliant victory of the Cowpcns was but eleven killed 
and sixty-one wounded, ahiiough the British casualties were 784. James was 
killed in that battle and John died of his hurt. Several of the next generation 
served in the war of 1812. Alexander C. volunteered for the war with Mexico 
and died in service at Monterey. In the war of 1861 five representatives of 
the families were in the Rockbridge Battery alone. These were Baxter, Tazewell, 
Thomas E., William Alexander, and William Adair. In the navy was I-afayette 
Adair, Captain George B., of the Rockbridge Cavalry, was a brother to Wil- 
liam D., who was wounded in the lungs, yet lived to become a shcriflF of 
Rockbridge. Lieutenant Baxter McCorkle and William Adair McCorklc were 
killed in battle, as was also James T., brother to George B. and William D. 
Several of the MacCorkles were in the war with Spain, and Henry, son of Wil- 
liam S., of Tennessee, fell at San Juan Hill. George, a son of Captain George 
B., was also in that war. A number of the great grandsons of .\lcxander 
have taken part in the late World War. One of these is Major Rice McN. 
Youell, of General Pershing's staff, and he gave the order for American troops to 
cross the German frontier. Others are Kdward Lane, a chaplain. Captain W. 
M. McGung, of Alabama, Ensign Thomas of the Xavy, and Robert B. Morrison 
of the ambulance unit of Washington and Lee University. 

In the ministry are at least ten descendants of Alexander in the male line. 
These are A. B., of Talladega, Alabama; Daniel, of Pueblo, Colorado; Emmett 
W., of Rockbridge; Frederick, of Oxford, Mississippi; S. V., of Ocala. Florida; 
Samuel, of Thyatira, North Carolina, another Samuel, of Indianapolis, Indiana, 
still another Samuel, of Detroit. Michigan, Tazewell, of Lynchburg. Virginia, and 
William P., of Martinsville, Virginia. 

From the foregoing survey of the MacCorkles of Rockbridge, it will appear 
that they arc distinguished for encrg>-, intcllcctu.olity, and public sjiirit. As 
wealthy and influential planters they have stood second to no other family. They 
have been greatly drawn to the professions, particularly law and the ministry. 
But industrial and commercial pursuits have been preferred by some of the 
connection. The Samuel McCorkle who went to Lynchburg was a very wealthy 
and conspicuous citizen of that city. In their home county it is not too much to 
say that they have Ix-en a backl)one element in all important public enterprises. 
Those who have left l<f>ckbridge to carve a career elsewhere seem generally to 
have liecn very successful in that undertaking. And last, but by no means least, 
the MacCorkles as a family have been staunch Presbyterians, often filling official 
positions in the church of their preference. 

It remains for us to add that the MacCorkles of Ulster display the same 
characteristics as their cousins in America. One of the name was a recent 
mayor of Londonderry, the city that endured a notable siege in 1689. 


Preliminary Stage — Activities Within the County 

Until the summer of 1914 the opinion was widely accepted that military 
invention had made warfare so terrible that never again was it likely to occur 
among civilized nations. The events of the August of that year came as a 
rude shock to the neutral world. 

For a while the American people were particularly interested in the money 
that was flowing across the Atlantic for the purchase of military supplies. 
They were slow to realize that from the very first the nations of the Entente 
were fighting a battle that belonged to us quite as much as to them. It at length 
penetrated the American consciousness that Germany was an outlaw by her 
own deliberate choice, and that until this criminal could be brought under control, 
civilization itself was in peril and the world could not be a fit place to live in. 
Yet there was a natural reluctance to believe the German government could 
be so lost to truth, honor, and decency as to act the hypocrite and the villain 
in the negotiations relating to its persistent disregard of American rights on the 
high seas. For almost three years America was a spectator, hoping against 
hope that it would not be drawn into the whirlpool, yet growing more and 
more indignant at the diabolic manner in which Germany was carrying on the 

In February, 1915, the Lexington Gacettc quoted an Englishman as saying 
that "the wrestling match between paganism and Christianity has continued 
nineteen hundred years, and we are now at the last and final grip. The umpire is 
America. America faces a far greater task than creating a republic or freeing 
her slaves; that of imparting to all the nations a spirit of political freedom 
and spiritual progress." In the same month the Rockbridge people noticed 
that Doctor Latane explained a submarine blockade of Britain as almost certain 
to bring America into the war. 

Even after the dastardly sinking of the Lusitania, the diplomatic corres- 
pondence with Germany was accompanied by a considerable measure of confi- 
dence on the part of the American people, that war would not result. In October, 
General Nichols spoke in Richmond on the subject of preparedness. He fav- 
ored preparedness as a necessary means of enforcing peace. He urged an 
adequate navy and standing army, a reserve corps of officers and enlisted men. 
and a more generous action on the part of the national government in support- 
ing the militia of the several states. 

But until the United States entered the war in Aprfl, 1917, the Rockbridge 



newspapers gave little space to the conflict, except as to the telegraphic news on 
the front page. As in 1861, the people of this county were not precipitant. Yet 
they were quick to rise to the situation when the crisis did arrive. 

Two months before tlic war definitely came to the United States, Doctor 
Latane used these words in addressing the Democratic Club of Baltimore : "We 
must fight. No sclf-i' nation can sit still while its ships arc l)cing kept 

in port by a submarii nlc of a foreign power." Next month Congress- 

man Flood spoke to the same cfTcct in Washington. In 1915 he had said 
that "neither the President nor the United States are afraid of war when the 
honor of the country is at stake." 

A meeting was held in the courthouse at Lexington, March 26th, to discuss 
the relations between our country and Germany. William A. Anderson called 
the assemblage to order. E. L. Graham was made permanent chairman, and 
J. W. McClung secretary. Doctor D. B. Easter spoke on the nature of the 
government of Germany, Colonel R. T. Kerlin on the issues of the war. Doctor 
F. I-. Riley on the failure of diplomacy, and General E. W. Nichols on what 
the United States can and ought to do. The meeting was also addressed by 
Colonel Hunter Pendleton, M. W. Paxton, and others. Numerous flags ap- 
pcare<l on the courthouse, and the anti-German spirit of the audience was very 
pronnunccd. The following resolutions were adopted by a unanimous vote: 

Resolved: That we urge Congress and the President of the United States to put an 
end to the present state of armed neutrality, assumed by this country towards the European 
conflict, by declaring war, or that a state of war exists between this country and Germany, 
and we furthermore urge the prosecution of such war with the utmost vigor, and with all 
our national resources. 

At Fairfield, April 11th, a national flag, eight by twelve feet in sire, was 
raised on a flagstaff sixty-five feet high. A week later Congress declared war. 
although the military aristocrats of Germany told their deluded countrymen 
that the action of America could not have the slightest effect on the outcome. 
These taskmasters were to learn to their cost that .Xnieric.Tii'i Icirn 
war with speed and prosecute it with unequalled efficiency. 

The war activities of Rockbridge were in the hands of efhcient men and 
were well organized. Particularly was this true of the filling in of the ques- 
tionaircs required of the men called out by the selective draft. Whenever the 
situ.ition required it. the professional and bu.sicnss men of the county gave their 
whole time to these new duties. 

Very speedily after the declaration of war a military camp was opened 
by Washington and Lee University. Enthusiasm ran high, nearly every student 
signifying his desire to take two years of training Before the close of'April 
drilling was carried on every day. A committee of the f.nculty began enlisting 
the talents and capacity of both faculty and students for such special services 



as they might be called on to perform. The first unit to begin training was a 
volunteer ambulance corps. In June, 1918, it was given the croix de guerre for 
gallantry in the removal of wounded from the battle front. Had the war con- 
tinued into 1919, military training would have been still further emphasized at 
Washington and Lee. It was the purpose of its authorities to enroll every 
student who was not physically disqualified. After October 1, 1918, all the 
students of military age who were detailed by the War Department for instruc- 
tion in the army training schools were placed under military control and discip- 
line. Already, the Doremus gymnasium and Castle Hill had been offered as a 
base hospital. Of the alumni of the university, 17.7 per cent, entered the mili- 
tary service of their country. 

At the Virginia Military Institute, as a matter of course, the military 
feature was even more pronounced. The attendance was record-breaking. 
This school sent out in all about 2,000 soldiers. Its parade ground was a scene 
of great activity in drill. By April 25, sixty tents had been set up in front of 
the barracks. Nearly 100 men were already in its training camp, and applica- 
tions were coming in daily. At a meeting held in May by the \^irginia Council 
of Defense, General Nichols counseled putting a stop to the further distillation 
of alcoholic liquor from foodstuffs. 

May 16, 1917, was Patriotic Day, and was fittingly celebrated in Lexington. 
Over 1,000 men marched in the morning procession, which was followed at 
one o'clock by a parade of 100 automobiles. At eleven o'clock in the morning 
there were stirring addresses at the courthouse by President Smith and William 
A. Anderson. A resolution introduced by Colonel Shields declared for conser- 
vation and economy and an increase in production. The following Sunday, 
Henry St. George Tucker gave an address on patriotism in the Methodist 
Church of Lexington. At the end of the month. Miss Elizabeth McCullough, 
of Missouri, arrived at Lexington to assume the duties of Woman Demonstrator 
for Rockbridge. 

The first registration day was June 5th, and was conducted by Sheriff R. L. 
Morrison, Colonel A. T. Shields, and Doctor C. H. Davidson. The number em- 
braced in the first draft, as estimated by the War Department, was 1650. The 
actual number was 1283 whites and 236 negroes. In the same month, B. E. 
Vaughan, president of the First National Bank of Lexington, accepted a call 
to represent the Tenth Congressional District on a committee of the American 
Bankers' Association for Virginia. The following citizens organized themselves 
into a committee of solicitation for the placing of the first Liberty Loan: 

Town of Lexington Major J. W. McClung, Chairman 

Lexington District L. G. Sheridan, B. P. Ainsworth 

Natural Bridge District E. T. Robinson, S. O. Campbell 


BuiTalo District . . Benjamin Hugcr, P. M. Pcnick 

Kerr's Creek District Frank Moore, S. M . Dunlap 

Walker's Creek District D. E. Strain. A. P. Wade 

South River District Dr. F. W. McCluer, F. L. McGung, J. McD. Adair 

To the first Liberty Loan the subscription of the county was $207,666, the 
trustees of Washinpton and Lee deciding to invest $20,000. 

As early as July tlic Lexington Pirancli of the National League for Woman's 
Service, working in a room on Washington street, sent off their fourth box, 
containing bandages worth $100. 

The first contribution fmm Rockbridge by the selective draft left l^xington 
for Camp I^e, September 9th. It was made up of Qiarles P. Bragg, Howard E. 
Giles, Qcm L. Ir\Mne. Stokes K. Reid, Henry Rooklin, Martin B. Shafer, Thomas 
R. Simpson, Walter W. Thomas, and Samuel M. Wood. A second group of six- 
ty-eight men went off September 20th. A third, of sixty, went out October 9th, 
after being banqueted at the Hotel Lexington by the business men of the town. 
A delegation of thirty colored men left October 27th. accompanied to the station 
by a colored band and by hundreds of other persons both white and colored. 

Already, there was a suggestion to perpetuate the name of the Rockbridge 
Artillery of the war of 186L The plan struck a very responsive chord. Organ- 
i/Jition was effected at the courthouse, July 7, in a meeting presided over by 
W. A. Anderson and P. M. Penick, and addressed by General Nichols. So far 
as possible, the membership of the battery was to be limited to the sons of 
Confederate veterans. The company, 140 strong and commanded by Captain 
Greenlee D. Ix:tcher, was mustered into service August 4, as a part of the 
First Regiment of the N'irginia Artillery. It drilled at Camp McClcllan, .Annis- 
ton, Alabama, and in October subscribed $12,750 to the Liberty Loan. The 
command reached France the next July, and was to have taken a position on the 
firing line, November 15. The armistice was signed four days too soon for this 
expectation to be realized. 

F-arle K. I'axton, county chairman on the con.servation of food, appointed as 
local committee, William R. Kennedy, and Misses Elizabeth McCullough. Evelyn 
Davis, and Elizabeth Barclay. 

A large autliencc assembled in the auditorium of the Lexington High 
{school to hear addresses on the war .savings drive by the Honorable D. P. Hal- 
»cy, of Lynchlinrg. and Judge M P Burks, of tlie .Supreme CnurX of N'irginia. 

I'or the week of 1918. the three letter carriers in Lexington reported 
selling Tlirift Stamps to the amount of $1560.16. The purchases by the white 
pupils of Ixxington amounted to more than $1,000. The same month the Red 
Cross Oiapter for Ixxington sent out as hospital suj)plies. fifty-two bcdsocks. 
seventeen pajamas, fifty-five tray covers, eighty-nine washcloths, fifty-eight 



comfort pillows, fifteen knitted squares, nine fracture pillows, eighty-four hand- 
kerchiefs, 5,900 wipers, and a box of linen. 171 sweaters were also sent out 
the same month. In February the membership of the Red Cross for Rockbridge 
was 1,705, distributed as follows: Lexington, 944; Brownsburg, 143; Fairfield, 
forty-one; Goshen, fifty-eight; Glasgow, sixty-six; New Monmouth, ninety- 
three; Natural Bridge, seventy; Murat, forty-eight; Raphine, 137; Vesuvius, 
sixty-nine ; Timber Ridge, thirty-six. About this time several lady teachers were 
at work in the courthouse to assist in the draft registration. 

In March the subscription for Camp Community Service was $932.73, the 
mark being $1,000. At the end of the thrift drive for April, a large meeting was 
addressed by the Honorable George E. Allen, Secretary of the American Bank- 
ers' Association. Sales of $2,063.69 were reported from the three booths. The 
ladies attending these were Dora Witt, Helen Campbell, Marion L. Beeton, 
Harriet Edwards, Lucy Patton, Leslie L. Weaver, Nell Carrington, and Elizabeth 
McCullough. John L. Campbell was the presiding officer. 

April 6 was an ideal day for the Liberty Loan parade which then took 
place. The chief marshal was Major M. F. Shields, of the Virginia Military 
Institute, and he had fifty assistants. The number of visitors in Lexington was 
5,000. The drive of the Third Liberty Loan closed May 4, Rockbridge being al- 
lotted $246,200, and subscribing $326,700. In one week in April the Lexington 
High School sold Thrift Stamps to the amount of $475.95. The county's quota 
was thus distributed : 

Lexington Town $123,300 Natural Bridge District $35,800 

Buena Vista 79,300 Kerr's Creek District 4,200 

Lexington District 5,600 Walker's Creek District 41,650 

Buffalo District 6,050 South River District 31,300 

In the summer of 1918 service flags were presented to New Providence 
Presbyterian Church and to Trinity Methodist Church of Lexington, the stars 
thereon numbering twenty-five and twenty-one, respectively. In the registration 
of September 9, 2302 white and 305 colored men registered. October 1, the 
Students' Army Training Corps began work with six tactical officers. 

The ministers of Rockbridge agreed to preach sernmns on the thrift drive, 
March. 24, 1918. The county has but a small representation among the non- 
resistant religious organizations. Consequently the "conscientious objector" was 
little in evidence. Neither were slackers conspiculously numerous, in compari- 
son with other counties. As was the case elsewhere, selfishness and money-get- 
ting were at the bottom of some of the claims for exemption from the draft ; 
more so than a deficient sense of patriotic duty. In July, 1918, several men were 
reported hiding in the Blue Ridge and in the Short Hills. The following Octo- 
ber six deserters skulking in the Blue Ridge were brought in from Irish Creek. 


Another died from the gunshot wound inflicted by a constable, the nffirrr being 

Throughout tl>e war period it was never possible not to observe at Lexing- 
ton that the United States was in the throes of a mighty struggle. The injunctions 
to conser\-c food, fuel, and clothing were well obscr\'cd, although in the winter 
of 1917-18 wood was scarce and high at Lexington. Among the young men who 
first went to the training camps, there was somewhat of a feeling that they 
were destined for the shambles. This was due to an exaggerated idea of the 
mortality on the European battle line, and it wore off considerably as the con- 
test advanced. The epidemic of influenza, which appeared in the county before 
the signing of the armistice, claimed a greater death toll among the people at 
home than among the Rockbridge soldiers who faced German bullets and gas 
bombs. The granting of furloughs had a salutary cfTcct. It could not but be 
noticed that the young men in khaki were improving in carriage, physique, and 
case of deportment. 

As a center of military activity, Lexington had a number of visitors during 
the war period. In September, 1917, Lieutenant J. J. Champcnois, of the French 
army, visited the Virginia Military Institute as an adviser of the United States 
Army. He spoke English fluently. Next May two crippled Canadian soldiers 
gave very realistic lectures at Washington and Lee University. The same 
month Lieutenant T. McP. Glasgow related his experiences in Europe to a very 
large audience at the High School. At the end of August Thomas A. Edison 
and Henry Ford were guests at Castle Hill. 

The commendation of Company G, Second Battalion, at the OITicers' Train- 
ing Camp, Plattsburg, New York, was of especial interest. All but six of the 
146 members were from the \'irginia Military Institute. Out of 219 Virginians 
present, only eighteen were not considered good material for commissioned of- 


Material Received Too Late For Insertion in Other Chapters* 

At the court of Orange for October 27, 1737, Benjamin Borden presented 
by certificate thirteen wolf-heads, supplied by John McDowell, George Robin- 
son and Robert McCoy. 

The following, all heads of families, were presented by the Orange court, 
May 24, 1739, for failing to give in on time their lists of tithables: Robert Mor- 
phet, George Morphet, James Greenlee, John McDuel, Ephriam McDuel, Richard 
Wood, William Wood. 

John McDowell proved, February 28, 1740, the importation of himself, 
Magdalene (wife), Samuel McDowell, and John Rutter, stating he came to 
America in 1737, and that "this is the first time of proving his and their rights 
to land." The proof for Ephraim, James, and Margaret McDowell was given in 
by John, the parent being too infirm to travel to court. 

WilHam Sawyer, was appointed constable in Borden Tract, May 23, 1740. 

Benjamin Borden made oath, 1741, he was in fear of his life from George 
Moffett. MoflFett was bound in twenty pounds. 

Gilbert Campbell and Joseph Lapsley were constables in Borden Tract, 1743. 

Peter Wallice, John Collier, and George Birdwell each bound in twenty 
pounds to go to Williamsburg as witnesses of the killing of Andrew Hemphill by 
Matthew Young, — 1745. 

Prices (taken from chancery suits), 1741-43: handkerchiefs, 30c; muslin, 
per yard, $1.00; one pair knitting needles, 5c; one fine comb, 41c; sickle, $1.50; 
frying pan, 83c; broadaxe, $1.08; weeding hoe, $2.33; felt hat, 66c; one ounce 
thread, 4c; one ounce cinnamon, 25c; Kcndale cotton per yard, 18c; calico per 
yard, 72c; brimstone per pound, 12c; 500 feet plank, $7.50; lead, lie; two sows, 
seven shoats, $5.67. 

In Donoho v. Borden, Charles Donoho says Benjamin Borden had an order 
of council to take up 100,000 acres on several conditions, one of which was that 
Borden should have a patent for the same when he could prove 100 settlements 
had been made thereon ; this in lieu of paying his majesty's rights for the land. 
Immediately after obtaining the order, Borden set up several advertisements, 
and continued to do so for upward of two years. To any person who would build 

*Note: This appendix is largely from material supplied by Mr. Boutwell Dunlap, 

of San Francisco. 


a little log house, or make other small improvements, so that he might be ac- 
counted one of the 100 settlers, Borden promised to give 100 acres adjacent to 
such iniprovcment. and to sell as much more land as he would buy at the rates of 
three pounds for each 100 acres. Such improvements were to be made by April 
1, 1738. The settler was to pay for drawing and recording the deed, and was also 
to pay eiglu sliillings for laying ofT each tract. If any person were to settle on 
different parts of the grant he was to have a right to 100 acres for each separate 
improvement. Donoho made three such settlements, but Borden entirely refused 
to carry out his obligations. 

Magdaicna McDowell gave bond March 24, 1743, as administratrix of John 
McDowell. The appraisement of 112 entries totals 216 pounds, four shillings, 
three and one-half pence, of which forty-nine pounds, sixteen shillings, ten 
pence is cash. Ihcre arc fourteen horses, eighteen cattle, seven sheep, a. still, 
and thirty gallons rye brandy valued at $12.50. There were two slaves and one 
servant. The fall crop of wheat and rye was appraised at $10, the flax at $15. 

The road by Stuart's Draft was the old pioneer route for people going 
southwest, and at certain seasons there was an almost endless procession of 
wagons. A part of the travel, however, went by Goshen. It was customary for 
statesmen and politicians to make speeches in the towns lliey pa.<;sed through. 
Many of them must have paused at Lexington. This circumstance, and also the 
schools, probably made Rockbridge less provincial than most counties of the 
antebellum South. 

Of the twenty-four commissioners to report on the proposed University of 
Virginia, all but three met in Rockfish Gap, August 1, 181S. Thomas Jefferson, 
the chairman, presented a model of the state in cardboard and a long list of octo- 
genarians to prove that Charlottesville was more centrally located than either 
Staunton or Lexington, and also very healthful. All the fifteen commissioners 
from east of the Blue Ridge voted for Charlottesville. Of the other nine, three 
voted for Lexington, two for Staunton, and only one for Central College, at 
Charlottesville. Washington Academy was the most dangerous rival, its property 
being worth $25,000, and the Robinson estate believed to be worth $100,000. 
The Cincinnati Society was at first hostile to Charlottesville. 

According to a phamplet by Ilarman and Mayo, published in 1868, a hunting 
party of Chcrokces was ordered out of the Little Calfpasture by the Shawnccs, 
who claimed an exclusive right to it. The Chcrokces refused, and in the battle 
that followed the Shawnees were defeated. But as the victors were fewer in 
number, they threw up fortifications still visible and were besieged several days. 
They then retreated in the dark, were pursued, and were driven through Goshen 
Pass. The fighting was renewed on a more sanguinary scale on Walker's Creek. 
Far above the yells of the warriors could be heard a wild shriek from the sum- 


mit of Jump Mountain. An ajiparition with streaming hair and outstretched 
arms was seen failing through tlie air and disappearing at the foot of the preci- 
pice. The superstitious fears of the combatants were aroused. Both parties be- 
lieved the Great Spirit was angry and had hid his face under a cloud. A council 
was called, the pipe of peace was smoked, and the tomahawk was buried. Both 
the Cherokees and Shawnees buried their dead in a single mound. Before the 
fight the Cherokees sent their females some distance to the rear, except a pretty 
maiden, whose interests in a young chief induced her to climb the mountain 
and watch the battle. She beheld her lover fall at the hands of a Shawnee, and 
then leaped to her death, the mountain henceforward being given the name of 
the Jump. 

We have given the substance of the above account for what it is worth, 
which is very little. 

The paternal grandfather of Joseph G. Baldwin was a native of Connecticut, 
who set up in Rockbridge the first woolen and cotton mill in the Valley of Vir- 
ginia. He wrote "Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi," dedicating it to 
"the old folks at home in the valley of the Shenandoah." 

W. A. Caruthers was well known in Savannah, Georgia, for his congenial 
ways and his skill as a physician. He was an antiquarian and hoarded an old 
tale or tradition as a treasure. He wrote "Cavaliers of Virginia," a story of 
Bacon's rebellion, "The Kentuckian in New York (1834)" a humorous and 
sociologically valuable narrative of early days, and "Knights of the Horse- 
shoe." (1845.) 

Archibald Alexander was perhaps the most influential man of his day in 
moulding religious thought. 

James C. Ballagh, a son of the Rev. James H. Ballagh, was born at Browns- 
burg, October 10, 1868. His studies were completed at the Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity where he specialized in history, economics, and jurisprudence, won prizes 
and took the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. In 1895 he was made assistant 
professor of history. He has travelled over the greater part of the world, and is 
the author of numerous works, such as "The Scotch-Irish in Virginia" (1896,) 
"North and Soutii in National Expansion" (1899), and "A History of Slavery 
in Virginia." (1902). 

John Lyle Campbell, a native of this county, died at Lexington, February 2, 
1886, aged sixty-seven. He wrote "Mineral Resources of the James River 
Valley" (1882), "Campbell's Agriculture," and was many years professor of 
chemistry and geology in Washington and Lee. 

Joseph Hamilton Daviess, born in Rockbridge March 4, 1774, was killed in 
1811 at the battle of Tippecanoe. His wife was a sister to John Marshall, chief 
justice of the United States. In being chosen to prosecute Aaron Burr, he became 


temporarily unpopular. Hence he published "A View of the President's Gjn- 
duct Concerning the Conspiracy of 1806." 

John I-"iniay, a j>oet, was born in Rockbridge January II, 1797, and died in 
Richmond, Indiana, at the age of sixty-nine. He was the author of "The Hoo- 
sier's Kcst and Other Poems." 

Jolin Lcyburn, U. U., was born in this county April 25, 1814. He was edi- 
tor of The Presbyterian, and was twenty years a pastor al Baltimore. He wrote 
"The Soldier of the Cross," "Hints to Young Men on the Parable of the Prodi- 
gal Son," and "Lectures on the Journcyings of the Giildrcn of Isreal." 

John G. Paxton edited an interesting collection of letters written in camp 
and field by his father, General E. F. Paxton. The work is prefaced by a memoir. 

Givcns B. Strickier was a son of Joseph and Mary (Brown) Strickler, and 
was born at Wilson's Springs, April 25, 1840. After serving in the Stonewall 
Brigade, he completed his academic and theologic studies. After being thirteen 
years pastor at Tinkling Springs and the same length of time in Atlanta, he 
took the chair of systematic theology in Union Theological Seminary, from 
which he was graduated. Doctor Strickler was one of the ripest scholars and 
profoundest thinkers in the Presbyterian Qiurch. 

The leading works of Bishop William Taylor are "Seven Years Street 
Preaching in San Francisco," "The Model Preacher," "Reconciliation : or How 
to Be Saved," "The Story of My Life," "Infancy and Manhood of Giristian 
Life," "Qiristian Adventure in South Africa," "Four Years Campaign in India," 
"Pauline Methods of Missionary Work," and "The Flaming Sword in Darkest 

George A. Wauchope. a son of Joseph W. and Jane (.•\rm>troiig) Walkup, 
studied in Harvard University and in Germany, made literary pilgrimages in 
England and Scotland, and is a ripe scholar with critical powers of analysis. He 
has lectured on the great English and American pofts, and since 1910 has been 
professor of English literature in the University of \'irginia. Doctor Wauchope 
has furnished numerous poems, essays, and short stories to the high class 

Charles McG. Hepburn, born in Rockbridge, August 19, 1858, has been 
professor of law in Indiana University since 1903. He organized the American 
Institute of Law at the city of New York, and is the author of several books 
relating to his profession. His father, Andrew D. Hepburn, LL. D., was born 
in Pennslyvania in 1830. After being pastor at New Providence he was presi- 
dent (1871-73) of Miami University and of Davidson College (1877-85.) 

Cliarles CamplK-ll, one of the historians of \'irginia. was a son of John W'. 
Campl>ell of this county. The son was a l)ookscllcr at Petersburg. 

Alexander Campbell, born 1750, died 1808, lived on Timber Ridge. He was 


a trustee of Washington College, county surveyor, and owned a half interest in 
the Rockbridge Alum. He was the father of Harvey D. Campbell, Ph. D., 
professor in Washington and Lee, and grandfather of Prof. John L. Campbell. 

The Rev. Adam Rankin went from this county to Kentucky, and the first 
book published in that state was his volume, "A Process in the Transylvania 
Presbytery." (1793.) 

Before Rockbridge Alum was developed, people were allowed to camp there 
and at Cold Sulphur Spring to use the waters. Cold Sulphur burned, and the 
ground is now owned by the Alleghany Inn. 

Two United States senators were elected November 5, 1918, from the Gay 
and McCormick families. John H. Gay was the pioneer of the Gays in Mis- 
souri. He was the father of William T., and grandfather of John B., the millions 
aire. E. J. Gay, born in 1816, was worth $12,000,000. 

"Jimmy" Blair was born in Augusta in 1761, and went to the Waxhaw settle- 
ment in South Carolina. When nineteen years old he rode back as far as Fort 
Defiance to arouse the patriots to meet Ferguson. His father was Colbert Blair, 
a Quaker, who left Pennsylvania about 1750 to get away from military influence. 
After 1771 the family moved south, but the four son's were in the Continental 
army. Colonel James Blair was known in verse and story as the "Rebel Rider." 
He settled in Habersham county, Georgia, and married a sister to Colonel Benja- 
min Cleaveland. 

The father of Davy Crockett kept a drover's stand on the road from Ab- 
ingdon, Virginia, to Knoxville, Tennessee. Jacob Siler, a German, was moving 
to Rockbridge with a drove of cattle, and hired Davy, then a boy and very poor, 
to help drive the cattle to the new home, three miles from the Natural Bridge. 
Davy was treated well and paid five or six dollars. Siler coaxed the boy to 
stay, and he remained about five weeks, although distressed at being put in the 
position of disobeying his father. Then three wagons, belonging to Dunn, who 
knew the Crocketts, came along. The drivers promised to take Davy home if 
he would join them at daybreak at a tavern seven miles ahead, and also promised 
to protect him if lie were pursued. Tiie boy got up at three o'clock in the morning 
and walked in eight inches of snow to the tavern, arriving in time. 

Jesse B., daughter of Senator Thomas H. Benton, was born at Cherry 
Grove, in 1824, and married General John C. Fremont. Siie wrote "Souvenirs 
of My Time," "The Story of the Guard," "A Year of American Travel," and 
"The Way and The Will." 

Hugh Campbell Wallace, ambassador to France, is a scion of the Wallace 
family of Rockbridge. 

Richard G. Dunlap, a brother to William C. Dunlap, was minister to the 
United States from the Republic of Texas. He was of the Calf pasture Dunlaps. 


Catherine Givens, who married James E. A. Gibbs. was a daughter of Sam- 
uel Givcns, bom 1793. and twenty years clerk of Nicholas county, of which he 
was also a sheriff. Robert, the father of Samuel, was born in Bath county. 
1765, and was a member of the House of Delegates, lie married Margaret, a 
daughter of Archibald and Sarah (Clark) Elliott, and was a son of William 
Givens. bt>rn 1740. and his wife. Agnes Hratton. William was the youngest son 
of Samuel the immigrant, who settled on Middle River. 

John R. S. Sterrett was bom at Rockbridge Haths. March 4, 1851. which is 
also the place of his burial. He was a son of Robert 1).. and Nancy S.. (Sit- 
lington) Sterrett, and his education was completed in Germany where he took 
the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Munich. 1880. He was 
professor of Greek at Miami University, the University of Texas, Amherst 
College, and Cornell University. He conducted various archxological tours to 
Asia Minor and Greece, and was one year at the head of the American School 
of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece. Doctor Sterrett was a member of several 
learned societies and wrote much on archa;ological subjects. 

William McC. Morrison, D. D., was bom near Lexington. November 10. 
1867. and was graduated from Washington and Lee and from the Presbyterian 
Theological Seminary, of Louisville, Kentucky. In 18% he was ordained and 
went as a missionary to the Congo Free State. He there exposed the atrocities 
perpetrated on the natives by order of the king of the Belgians, and was very in- 
stmmental in having the Free State placed under the direct control of the Bel- 
gian government. In this cause he appeared before the British Parliament. On 
his return to America in 1906 he edited a paper and further exposed the atroci- 
ties. He was sued for lilxrl but acquitted. Doctor Morrison traveled extensively 
in Africa, and was the first man to reduce the Baluha language to a written 
form. Of this tongue he published a granunar and a dictionary. His wife died 
in Africa in 1910. 


S(|uire Glasgow, as he was generally known, was bom on South River, five 
miles east of I-cxington. on October 24. 1820, at the home of his father, where 
he was brought up and lived all his life, as a planter, and died .August 4. 1894. 

His father. John Glasgow, son of Arthur Glasgow — both of whom were 
prominent citizens of Rrxkbridge — on March 9, 1815. married Martha MacNutt, 
daughter of Alexander and Rachel Grigsby MacNutt. 

*Thc remainder of Ihit chapter it contributed by hi* daughter. Elizabeth Glasgow 


Arthur Glasgow was born in 1750, a descendant of Earl Glasgow, of Scot- 
land, from which country Arthur emigrated to this country. 

Governor A. Gallatin MacNutt, whose two administrations as Governor of 
Mississippi were marked by their efficient progressiveness, was an uncle on his 
maternal side. 

The old Glasgow home, "Tuscan \'illa," has been in the family since the 
original grant and is one of the few in the county — if, indeed, there be any — 
which remains in the possession of the heirs of the original grantee. 

This is a part of a tract which was granted by the Commonwealth of Vir- 
ginia to his ancestor, John MacNutt, in 1768. 

His grandfather, Arthur Glasgow, fought in the battle of Cowpens as a 
Revolutionary soldier. 

His grandmother, Rachael Grigsby MacNutt, was a woman of unusual 
character and ability. She was left a widow at about forty years of age with 
thirteen children, all of whom she reared and educated. Her sons reflected 
credit upon her and upon their country. Her daughters married prominent men 
and as wives and mothers reflected the sterling character of their mother. 

His great uncle. Colonel Alexander MacNutt, was a gentleman of liberal 
education, fine mind and sterling character. 

King George H received Colonel MacNutt, who carried letters from Governor 
Dinwiddle, of Virginia, and for his service and gallantry in the face of the 
enemy, in the battle of Sandy Creek with the Indians, knighted him and present- 
ed him with a dress sword. He was later Governor of Nova Scotia. 

This sword is today retained in the possession of heirs of the subject of 
this sketch. 

When on his raid through the Valley and Lexington in 1864, General Hunt- 
er and his forces took much property — silver and other property — from the old 
Glasgow home, among which was this sword. Fortunately, years after the war, 
it was located and Mr. Glasgow was able to recover its possession. 

Mr. Glasgow entered Washington College, from whicli he was graduated 
with the degrees of A. B. and B. L. 

He was a gentleman of the old school, of unquestionable character, high 
ideals, all his life a planter, and public spirited. He was active in all public mat- 
ters, a great reader, and well informed. 

As one of the first judges of Rockbridge county, he served with his associates, 
with rare credit to his profession and his people. It is said of those first judges 
who composed the County Court that they were governed, in rendering their 
decisions by sound common sense, rather than by decided cases and technical 
rules of evidence. 

Appeals from their decisions were rarely ever taken, and their decisions 
were usually affirmed if appealed from. 


It was through this service that he came to be known as Squire Glasgow. 

Being beyond an age for active service at tlic front in the Civil War, he 
joined the Home Guard, in which he was commissioned captain. In addition to 
his military service, he bent every effort in producing and supplying necessities 
for the forces in the field. 

Among liis private papers are orders from headquarters concerning the 
movements of the Home Guards, receipts for supplies furnished the Army of 
Northern \irginia. numerous reports and letters of historical interest — all evi- 
dencing his spirit of service and i)atriotism. 

Of rare interest, among his private papers is a pardon granted him by Pres- 
ident Andrew Johnson. The pardon is signed by President Johnson, dated July 
19, 18^)5, and sealed with the Great Seal of the United States. 

Squire Glasgow had been convicted by the local carpel-bag administration 
of an alleged violation of law in not giving freedom to a former slave. Upon a 
review of the facts, the President granted the above pardon. 

After his mother's death, to whom his life was affectionately devoted, he 
lived many years as a bachelor, but late in life married I^ura B. Mackey, of 
Rockbridge county, daughter of Henry Mackey, and Xaiicy Hamilton. 

They had issue: Alexander MacNutt, Jr., John Henry, Klizabeth Vance, 
Lucy G., Mary Thompson, and Otclia MacNutt. 

His death left the young widow and children to be reared and educated. 
Mrs. Glasgow possessed those talents of character and business which alone, in 
adversity, enabled her to rear and educate her children. 

The boys were educated at Washington and Lee, the girls at Mary Baldwin 
Seminary in .Staunton, Virginia, and the State Normal School at Farmville, 

Mr. Glasgow was a Presbyterian and an elder in that church at his death. 

His life was an integral part of the history of Rockbridge, to whose people 
and interests he was devoted. 








The McCormick Reaper — Gibbs and His Sewing AIachixe — Othfr 
Rockbridge Inventions 

I. The McCormick Reaper.* 

The first successful reaping machine and the prototype of all harvesting 
machines now in use the world over was invented and constructed by Cyrus 
Hall McCormick at the forge on his father's farm in Rockbridge County. The 
McCormick homestead, "Walnut Grove," is situated on the northern edge of the 
county near Steele's Tavern, and part of the farm extends over into the adjoin- 
ing county of Augusta. In this remote community was invented the instrunienr 
which wrought the greatest change in agriculture that has ever taken place, and 
which has aflected profoundly the economic life of tlie world. Rockbridge 
county has given birth to many distinguished men, but the one Rockbridge 
name that has gone around the world, that is known today in every civilized 
land, is that of Cyrus Hall McCormick, the inventor of the reaper. In every 
country of Europe, in Asiatic Russia, in Persia, in India, in Australia, in South 
Africa, and in South America, wherever the harvest is bountiful, the invention 
of this Rockbridge boy is used in gathering it in. 

The McCormicks were of Scotch-Irish stock, and Cyrus was of the fourth 
generation in America. His great-grandfather came from Ulster to Pennsylvania 
during the second quarter of the eighteenth centurj-, and his grandfather, who 
moved to the Valley of Virginia, fought for American independence at Guilford 
Courthouse. Cyrus's father, Robert McCormick, was a man of some education, 
fond of reading and of astronomy, and greatly interested in mechanical pursuits. 
He owned several farms, aggregating about 1,800 acres, two grist-mills, two 
samniills, a distillery, and a blacksmith shop. He was a skilled worker in 
wood and iron, and invented among other things a hcmpbrake, a bellows, and a 
threshing machine. 

Cyrus was born in 1809. He inherited his father's talents, and from his 
earliest youth was associated with him in his mechanical experiments. John 
Cash, a neighbor of the McCormick family, wrote in after years: "Cyrus was 
a natural mechanical genius, from a child, as I have heard; from the time I knew 
him he was working at mechanical things, and invented the best hillside plow 
ever used in this country." At the age of fifteen he began his efTorts to solve 

♦This portion of the present chapter was written by Doctor John H. Latan^, of Johns 
Hopkins University. 


the problem of harvesting grain by making for himself a cradle which he could 
easily swing in the field. His attention was drawn to the problem of inventing 
a reaping machine by his father, who began his experiments on a horse reaper 
in 1816 when Cyrus was seven years of age. 

The following description of the elder McCormick's experiments was pub- 
lished originally in tlic Partners' AJfancc, a journal controlled by Cyrus, and was 
therefore probably written cither by Cyrus or with his approval: 

The elder McCormick (Robert) was the inventor and patentee of several valuable 
nijchines, among which were those for threshing, hydraulic hemp-breaking, etc. In 1816 he 
devised a reaping machine with which he experimented in the harvest of that year, 
and when bafllcd and disappointed in his experiments, he laid it aside and did not take it up 
again until the summer of 18J1. lie then added some improvements to it, and again tested 
its operation in a field of grain on his farm, when he became so thoroughly convinced that 
the principle u|>on which it was constructed could never be practically successful in cutting 
any promiscuous crop of grain as it stands in the fields, that he at once determined to 
abandon all further efforts at making it a success. The radical defect in his machine was 
that it sought to cut the grain as it advanced upon it in a body, by a series of stationary 
hooks placed along the front edge of the frame work, having an equal number of perpin- 
dicular cylinders revolving over and against the edge of the hooks, with pins arranged on 
the periphery of the cylinders to force the stalks of grain across the edges of the hooks, and 
K> carry the grain in that erect position to the stubble side of the machine, there to drop it 
in a continuous swath. These different separations of the grain at the different hooks along 
the front edge of the frame work, for such subsequent delivery in swath at the side of the 
machine, especially in a crop of tangled grain, were found to be impracticable." 

In Cyrus's application of January 1, 1848, for an extension of his original 
patent, he refers to his father's machine and says : "By his experiment in the 
harvest of 1831 he became satisfied that it would not answer a valuable purpose 
notwithstanding it cut well in straight wheat. Very soon after my father 
abandoned his Machine I first conceived the idea of cutting upon the princijilc of 
mine, viz : with a vibrating blade operated by a crank and the grain supported at 
the edge while cutting by means of fixed pieces of wood or iron projections 
before it (I think these pieces were of iron in 1831, but if not, iron was used for 
them certainly in the harvest of 1832). A temporary experimental Machine 
was immediately constructed, and the culling partially tried with success, in cut- 
ting without a reel, a little wheat left standing for the trial; whereupon, the 
Machine was improved, and the reel which I had in the meantime discovered — 
attached and soon afterwards (the same harvest) a very successful experiment 
was made with it in cutting oats in a field of Mr. John Steele, neighbor to my 
father. The Machine at the time of this experiment contained all the essential 
parts that were embraced in the patent of June 21, 1834. It had the platform; 
the slraiijht sickle with a vibrating action by a crank; the ftnfjcrs. or stationary 
supports to the cutting, at the edge of the blade, and projecting forward into the 



grain ; the reel; and the general arrangement by which the machine was (about) 
balanced upon two wheels, perhaps (9/10) nine-tenths of the whole weight being 
thrown upon the one behind the draught, thereby attaching the horses in front 
and at one side without the use of a separate two-wheeled cart, for the purpose 
of controlling the running of the Machine; and at the same time causing the 
Maciiine (upon its two wheels) to accommodate itself to the irregularities of the 
ground — which construction / claim, (and which Hitssey adopted)." 

This statement of the connection between the labors of Robert and Cyrus 
is borne out by the statements of various contemporaries and by the general tra- 
dition in the community where the McCormicks lived. William T. Rush, an 
intelligent neighbor, wrote out his personal recollections and impressions in 1885 
as follows : "I have heard repeatedly all about Robert McCormick building a 
reaper long before C. H. ever thought of it. The old gentleman was working on 
it for quite a time. I never saw one of these old machines designed by Mr. 
Rob't McCormick, but his son \Vm. S. (a brother of Cyrus) has often showed 
me most of the main pieces and explained them to me so that I was quite familiar 
with its plan and general build and operation. In the first place, it was pushed 
forward by the horses harnessed behind it. It had a small platform to receive the 
grain, but no reel, as a reel did not seem necessary to its plan. His cutting 
apparatus was like this. He had a series of reaping sickles, half moon shape, 
fastened to be stationary on a wooden bar. These sickles were supposed to do 
the cutting and the grain was brought into contact with and pressed against them 
by a series of perpendicular cylinders with spikes on their surface. These 
cylinders got motion from the traveling wheel and when they revolved, the spikes 
on their surface, which were fourteen inches long and somewhat curved or bent, 
forced the standing grain against the edge of the stationary sickle hooks. I was 
thirteen years old in 1833. 

"This machine did not work, and was by himself pronounced a failure. The 
old gentleman made successive attempts in vain, and William S. said he never 
made any models, but built full sized machines without calculation. At last 
Mr. Robert gave the matter up as impracticable. Cyrus then took it up, and 
then the old gentleman gave up doing any more with it and left it all to Cyrus. 
Cyrus first made a model on a small scale of the plan he designed, to see how it 
would work. 

"One day, after Cyrus had got his machine in good working shape, and had 
begun to sell two or three of them, I was at the old Homestead and his father 
was fixing up some gears (harness) that we might go out to set it at work, for 
I acted as agent in selling and setting up the machines in the early days, and 
we were talking together about its success, when the father made this remark: 
'Well, I am proud that I have a son who could accomplish what I failed to do.' 


These were his words, and he really was proud of his son's success. There is no 
doubt that old Robert McCormick first conceived the idea of making a machine 
to cut grain by horse power, and that but for this, C. H. perhaps would never 
have thought of making a machine, and I am glad that in all that has been 
ever written on this subject, this much credit has been given to Mr. Robert 
McCormick. While this is true, it is also true that hut for the ingenuity and 
pcr.severance of C. II. McCormick, there never would have been .-» McCormick 
reaper, for, as I have said, his father's machine was a total failure." 

The al)ove facts in regard to the connection between the work of Robert 
and of Cyrus have been slated at some length, because half a century later 
Leander J. McCormick, a brother of Cyrus, undertook to prove that the reaper 
which Cyrus patented was really invented by his father Robert, and certain 
memlxjrs of Leander's family have continued even to the present day to make 
assertions to the same effect. No suggestion that Robert, and not Cynis. was 
the inventor of the McCormick Reaper is to be found except in the statements 
solicited by Leander after the dissolution of his partnership with Cyrus and 
published after the death of Cyrus. Leander had developed a bitter and re- 
lentless animosity toward his brother. This is clearly shown in his Memorial 
of Robert McCormiek, published in 1885. the year after Cyrus died. This so- 
calkd "memorial" is in reality an attack on the fame and character of Cyrus. 
It undertakes to show that there was nothing very new after all in the machine 
patented by Cyrus, that most of its parts were known before, and that Cyrus 
merely brought together in successful combination features from the inventions 
of others. The so-called affidavits collected by leander from neighbors and 
contemporaries of Robert fifty years after the invention of the reaper may be 
explained by the well known fact that Robert worked on a reaper for years and 
did invent a machine that would cut straight grain on level ground under favor- 
able conditions, but this machine was constnicted on a principle totally different 
from that of Cynis. It was not a difficult task fifty years afterwards for I^.inder 
to create a confusion in the minds of these old nrighlmrs of Robert l>etween his 
efforts and the successful effort of Cyrus, and to get them to sign statements 
to the effect that RoIktI invented the reaper patented by Cynis. Furthermore, 
Robert superintended for several years the manufacture of reapers for Cyrus, and 
no doubt some of Ixander's witnesses remembered seeing him at work on these 
reapers. Cyrus left the community as a young man and visited it only for short 
times and at rare intervals. He was more or less of a stranger in later years 
in his own county, while Leander frequently visited his old home and went 
alioiit the county looking up his oM friends and relatives. He reminded people 
of the years his father had devoted to efforts to invent a reaper, and convinced 
some of them that the father deserved the credit for whatever success the son 
had achieved. 



Leander was unable to produce a shred of contemporary evidence to sub- 
stantiate his case. If there were the slightest truth in the contention that Robert 
was the real inventor of the reaper, we would naturally expect to find some evi- 
dence of it in the contemporary newspaper references to the reaper, but no such 
evidence has been brought to light. On the contrary, the Lexington and 
Staunton papers contained frequent notices of the reaper and long accounts of 
field trials, and yet in none of these accounts do we find the slightest suggestion 
of a doubt in anybody's mind that the machine was the invention of Cyrus. 
In the various suits over the reaper the opponents of Cyrus denied the priority 
of his invention and attacked its originality, but no one ever claimed that he had 
fraudulently procured a patent for a machine invented by his father, when the 
mere suggestion of such a thing would have served their purpose so well. 

One of the serious difficulties in the way of inventing a reaping machine 
was the shortness of the harvest season and the limited period of time during 
which experiments could be made. Defects developed in one harvest could not as 
a rule be remedied in time for the improvement or new device to be tested in 
the same harvest. According to all the testimony, however, Cyrus constructed 
and tested his machine in the same harvest in which his father's last machine 
was tried and abandoned. Cyrus had been working with his father from child- 
hood, had aided in the construction of his machine, and had noted all its defects 
and witnessed its failure. The solution of the problem to which he had devoted 
so much time and attention probably came to him quickly, and he lost no time in 
putting it to the test. From his father's abandonment of his machine to the 
end of the oat harvest he probably had not more than a month. He did the work 
at his father's forge, though the cutting blade, one of the most important features 
of the new machine, was made according to Cyrus's design by a skilled black- 
smith, John McCown, who lived on South River. In connection with the Patent 
Extension Case McCown made the following sworn statement December 31, 
1847, in regard to iiis part in the construction of Cyrus's machine: 

I reside some twelve or thirteen miles from the residence of Wm. S. McCormick, son 
of Robt. McCormick, deed. During the harvest of Eighteen Hundred & Thirty-One, Cyrus 
H., son also of Robt. McCormick deed., applied to me to make him a cutting blade for a 
Reaping Machine, which he was then constructing to be operated by horse-power; and by 
his directions I did accordingly make one about four feet long with a straight serrated or 
sickle edge, with a hole in one end of it for the purpose of being attached — as I was told 
and afterwards found to be the case — to a crank, which gave it a vibratory action. The 
machine was accordingly put in operation that harvest as I was informed, but did not see it. 
The present residence of Wm. S. McCormick was then the residence of his father and 

A small group of neighbors witnessed the first trial of the machine on the 
McCormick Homestead, and several of these testified later as to the success of the 


experiment. Among them was Dr. N. M. Hitt, who made th( following sworn 
statement January 1, 1848: 

During the harv-est of eighteen hundred and thirty-one, whilst boarmg at the house of 
Mr. Jno. Steele, about one mile from the farm of Mr. Robt. McCoriiuk, deed., father of 
C>Tus H., I had notice that a machine had been constructed by the lacr to cut wheat (or 
other small grain) and that a trial of it could be seen on said farm oiiliat day. I, accord- 
ingly, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Steele, went to Mr. McCormicks and di bn that day witness 
probably one of the first experiments made of the operation of th' "Virginia Reaper." 
This experiment was made in cutting a piece of wheat, without the "fiel." Othenvise, the 
principles of the Machine, though imperfect, were, I believe, the same a afterwards patented 
— that is, the cutting was done by a straight blade with a sickle edc, which received a 
vibratory motion from a crank, the grain being supported at the ece of the blade by 
stationary pieces or points of wood projecting before it. On one sid of the Machine the 
gearing was attached by cog wheels which operated the crank, drive: -by one main wheel 
running upon the groimd and supporting one side of the Machine — th^rank being attached 
to the blade by a connecting piece. 

From the frame work that supported the wheels, a pair of shafts ■vcrc extended forward 
to which a horse was attached that pulled it— and the side of the Mchine extending into 
the grain was supported by a small wheel. 

The cutting was fully established, as I thought, by this experimer. This Machine was 
further improved and a reel attached to it, and as I believe, thouh not present, was 
exhibited the same season in cutting oats in a field of Mr. Jno. Steele. 

This Machine had (of course) a platform behind the sickle for reoving and holding the 
cut grain until a sufficient quantity was collected for a sheaf— more or ;ss. The "stationary 
pieces" before mentioned are not by me distinctly recollected. 

Such are the essential facts in regard to the invention if the McCormick 
reaper. Makers of rival machines claimed later that McCrmick was not an 
original inventor, that the various features of his machine hd been devised and 
employed by earlier inventors, and that he merely combined; hem in successful 
operation. The fact that there is a certain amount of truth i these claims does 
not detract from McCormick's reputation nor from the credi due him as an in- 
ventor of the first order. None of the earlier machines workd successfully, and 
none of McCormick's rivals ever undertook to copy them, i: was his machine 
that they borrowed from, and his patent that they fought inthe courts and on 
the floor of Congress. One who has made a careful study f earlier machines 
and compared their several parts with that of McCormick hs summarized his 
conclusions as follows : 

In all the art prior to the McCormick machine there is not tva a prototype which 
could have developed into his machine by any improvement short of bsolutely rejecting its 
fundamental plan of construction and starting on one of which it pve no suggestion. It 
was a radical and most essential departure from all prior devices In lount the machine on 
the master-wheel from which the power was derived and on which te machinery was sus- 
tained, while a cutting blade and grain platform were carried belvcen that wheel and a 
free grain wheel whose movement was independent of but parallel i hp m.^ster-wheel; to 

C^ /¥. ?7lT(^i^^J:^ 


support a serrated cutting blade in the front edge of a platform between these two wheels 
and rciprocate it between stationary forward projecting fingers by means of a crank con- 
nection with the master-wheel; to combine with the blade and teeth between which it 
reciprocated a reel which swept over the blade, bending the grain across it and between its 
fingers, thence over the platform, and deposited the grain thereon, and the divider cooperating 
with this reel and witli the reciprocating cutting knife to isolate the cut from the standing 
grain and guide the former to the cutting knife; and to provide a reaper with a blade having 
a serrated or sickle edge reciprocating between teeth in the front edge of a grain-carrying 
platform. No machine having these constituents preceded it, and no machine lacking them 
has survived. They are fundamental in the reaper of today, and have been in every suc- 
cessful reaper. It may be said that reciprocating blades were not, in themselves, new; 
front or side draft was not new; platforms were not new; reels were not new; driving 
wheels were not new; teeth were not new — and all this may be conceded without diminish- 
ing in the slightest degree the originality or the magnitude of the invention. All new ma- 
chines are made up of elements which, individually considered, are old. Invention consists 
in conceiving of some new method of organizing elements so as to bring them into success- 
ful cooperation and work out a useful result which has not been accomplished by their 
cooperation before. None of these elements had ever been so constructed and combined as 
accomplish the result which they accomplished in this machine, nor had any combination of 
elements been before contrived which operated together in the same manner or so as to 
secure the same advantage. 

It was a new machine in the broadest sense. As first constructed, it required many im- 
provements and refinements in order to make it a commercial success, but its plan was such 
as to qualify it for such improvements and refinements and to demonstrate that it was 
worthy of them and that ultimate success was to be achieved by adhering to that plan and 
from that starting point, rather than along other paths. It went steadily on, unchanged in 
general character, but taking upon itself such subsequent improvements or adjuncts as the 
further experiments of its inventor indicated to be desirable in order to deal with the various 
conditions encountered in the field. Under the guidance of its author it matured into a 
world-conquering machine, vindicated its right to a permanent possession of the fields and 
the market, and has compelled those who were most eager to disparage it to pay if the 
significant tribute of adhering with remarkable exactitude to the plan of construction which 
it inaugurated. 

In an article on reaping machines in Johnson's Universal Encyclopaedia. 
prepared by the head of the Ag^ricultural Department of Cornell University, the 
followinrj concise statement in regard to the McCormick reaper occurs: "In 1831 
the machine of Cyrus H. McCormick was invented and successfully operated. 
This machine for the first time was an organized instrument, containing practical 
devices that have been incorporated in every successful reaper made since. As 
built and tested in the fall of 1831 it contained the reciprocating knife moving 
through fixed fingers to sever the grain, the platform which received the grain, 
the reel to hold the grain for the knife, and to incline it upon the platform, and the 
divider projecting ahead of the knife to separate the grain to be cut from that 
left standing. The horses traveled ahead of the machine, and beside the standing 
grain. It was mounted upon two wheels, and the motion to move the operating 
parts was derived from the outer wheel." 


It was nearly tlircc years after the tests on the McCormick homestead and 
the Steele farm before Cyrus McCormick applied for a patent, which was 
granted June 21, 1834. A few months earlier Obed Ilussey, of Baltimore, took 
out a patent for a reaping machine which embodied several of the most important 
features of McCormick's machine. The knife, fingers, and general arrangement 
of the cutting ajiparatus were similar. The system of granting patents at that 
time was very lax. The Patent Act of 1793 then in force merely provided, "That 
every inventor, before he can receive a patent, shall swear or affirm, that he docs 
verily believe that he is the true inventor or discoverer of the art, machine, or 
improvement for which he solicits a patent." The act further provided that if 
upon a judicial investigation "it shall appear that the patentee was not the true 
inventor or discoverer, judgment shall be rendered by such court for the repeal 
of such patent." The act of 1836 was the first of the patent acts to require a 
preliminary examination of the Patent Office records for the purpose of determin- 
ing whether the claims of an applicant for a patent conflicted with the claims of 
earlier patentees. The fact that a patent was granted to Ilussey before Mc- 
Cormick secured his patent docs not imply priority of invention on the part of 
Hussey. It did, however, lead to long and bitter litigation, which we shall refer 
to again. 

As soon as McCormick learned of Hussey's machine he denounced it as an 
infringment of his rights in the following vigorous letter: 

To the Editor of the Mechanics' Mai^azine : 

Dear Sir. — Having seen in the April number of your MaRarinc .t nit and description of 
the reaping machine said to have Ijccn invented by Obed Hiissey. of Obio, last summer, I 
would a^k a favor of you to inform Mr. Hussey, and the pulilic. tbrougb your columns, thai 
the principle, namely, cutting grain by means of a toothed instrument, receiving the rotary 
motion from a crank, with the iron teeth projecting al)ove the edge of the cutter, for the 
purpose of preventing the grain from partaking of its motion, is a part of the principle of 
my machine, and was invented by me, and operated on wheat and oats in July, IMI. This 
can be attested to the entire satisfaction of the public and Mr. Hussey, as it was witnessed 
by many persons. Consequently, I would warn all persons against the use of the aforesaid 
principle, as I regard and treat the use of it, in any way. as an infringment of my rights. 

SM'rr ilir fir»t rr'><Tim<-!'t wns mnde of the performance of my m-ichine. I have, for the 
n' been lalKiring to bring it to as much perfection as 

tl: . ;t to the public. I now expect to be able in a very 

short lime to give such an account of iu timplicity, utility, and durability ■« will give 
general, if not universal, satisfaction. 

The revolving reel, as I conceive, constitutes a very important, in fact, indisr>ensable. part 
of my machine, which has the elTecI, in all cases, whether the grain be tangled or leaning, 
unless below an angle of forty-five degrees to the ground, to bring it back to the cutter and 
deliver it on the apron when cut. 

Very respectfully yours, etc., 

Cvars H. McCotwiot. 


I E 


■ n 


U s 





At twenty-two Cyrus McCormick had forged the instrument which was to 
revolutionize the agricultural industry of the world, but the battle was yet to be 
fought. The revolution was to be accomplished only by a life-long struggle 
against prejudice, against mechanical difficulties, against adverse decisions of the 
patent office, and against rival manufacturers who unscrupulously embodied his 
ideas in their machines. But McCormick combined with his inventive genius 
what is very rare in his class — indomitable energy. Had he lacked this, or had 
he invented his reaper later in life, it is probable that he would have died poor and 
unknown and that some one else would have gathered the rewards of his genius. 
Most men encountering the difficulties and discouragements that beset him would 
have given up the fight, but he was a man of undaunted courage, of untiring 
energy, and of unswerving purpose. 

Having invented what he believed to be a successful reaper, Cyrus's next 
task was to convince the farmers that it was a practical device and to persuade 
them to buy it. As a means to this end the field test was introduced. After the 
trial on the Steele farm the next public exhibition, the date of which is uncertain, 
was given near Lexington, and this time the whole countryside turned out to 
witness it. The machine was first taken to the farm of John Ruff, but as the 
wheat to be cut was on a hill-side, the machine did poor work and scattered the 
grain. Ruff, who is described as a plain-spoken, hot-headed man, interrupted 
the performance by declaring in a loud voice that he did not want his wheat cut 
and threshed at the same time, and "with considerable indignation, ordered the 
machine out of his field." Fortunately for young McCormick there were some 
men of greater vision present. Colonel William Taylor, who represented the dis- 
trict in Congress, promptly stepped forward and, according to the statement of 
J. W. Houghawout, many years afterwards mayor of Lexington, "offered to 
give Mr. McCormick all the opportunity he needed to continue his operations on 
his land. The machine was then taken into Colonel Taylor's field, only a little 
ways off, and here it worked much better, and part of the time did good work. I 
well remember how closely Mr. McCormick walked with the machine, watching 
it and doing whatever was necessary when anything went wrong. He was 
calm and quiet, indeed, said little, while most everyone had something to say, 
such as, 'Oh, it will do, perhaps,' 'It will have to work better than that,' 'It is a 
humbug,' 'Give me the old cradle yet, boys.' But as I said, Mr. McCormick him- 
self had not much to say at the trial. There was no brag about him. He was a 
plain and unassuming young man. At the close of the trial he was complimented 
by the leading and influential men for what his machine had done." 

This and other tests finally convinced the editor of the local newspaper 
that the invention was of sufficient importance to be heralded in his columns. 
The first newspaper mention of the McCormick reaper was the following editorial 


which appeared September 14, 1833, in The Union, a weekly paper published at 
Lexington : 

We have omitted until now to furnish our aRricultural friends with an account of a 
machine for cutting grain, invented by one of our ingenious and respectable county-men. 
Mr Cyrus H. McCormick. and which we witnessed operating in a field of grain during the 
last harvest in the neighbourhood of this place. A large crowd of citizens were present at 
the trial of it, and although the machine (it being the first) was not as jMrrfectly made as 
the plan is susceptible of, yet we believe it gave general satisfaction. We have been fur- 
nished with some ccrlificites from several of our intelligent farmers, which wc have ap- 
pended to the following description of the invention. 

This editorial was followed by a detailed description of the machine, which 
proves conclusively that it embraced all of the basic principles of the later models. 
There were added to the description testimonials from Archibald Walker, James 
McDowell, afterwards governor of Virginia, who stated that he was so satisfied 
with the reaper that he had bought one. and Ji>hn Weir, who said that he had 
seen it in operation for two seasons and tliat it would cut "about twelve acres 
per day, by being well attended." 

The next year The Union published another editorial on the reaper in the 
issue of August 9, 1834: 

We have frequently heard of the grain cutting machine of Mr. Cyrus McCormick. 
highly spoken of. but we never had the pleasure gratification of an ocular demonstration of 
its utility*. We publish in today's paper two certificates from gentlemen of the highest re- 
spectability, to which wc call the attention of our agricultural readers. It is presumable 
from the general character of the machine, that it will ere long 5Ui>ersede in a great meas- 
ure, the use of the cradle and the sickle; for it appears to cut both faster and with less 
expense to the employer. 

The cci^ificales referred to were as follows: 

The undersigned having witnessed the operation of a "Horse Cradle" or m.ichinc. in- 
vented by Mr. Cyrus McCormick. a young man of Rockbridge county, for cutting grain by 
the application of horse power, cheerfully gave an assurance of their l>clicf in its usefulness 
and value. The machine was tried, when they saw it, in the ncighlmurhood of Lexington, 
upon a field of oats, and although the field was hilly, quite rough with clods, and the grain 
in places thin and light, yet the cutting was rapid and extremely clear and scarcely a stalk of 
grain being left, and little, if any, being lost by shattering from the working of the machine. 
Some small quantity of grain was uncut where sudden turns of direction at sharp angles 
had to be made, but it was altogether inconsiderable. Upon trial made for th.-it purpose, 
they ascertained that this machine, drawn by two horses, with a boy to drive and a man to 
collect the grain into sheaves for binding, cut. when moved at its ordinary speed, about the 
third of an acre in ten minutes, and cut it, as they think, much cleaner than it could have 
be«n done by hand. The forming of the sheaf, however, which has to be done by other 
hands, was more difficult and less perfect, than might be desired. The cutting itself is done 
by a steel blade having the edge of a sickle, fastened to the end of • double crank and most 
ingeniously contrived to work horizontally. 

•The editorship of the paper h^'\ rlianprH since the notice <-,( ^^rnimii.rr |4 1R33. 


The experiment made in the presence of the undersigned, was not long enough to enable 
them to judge whether this machine, which can be used only where the ground is without 
stumps, is or is not liable from its structure, to occasional or to much disorder. They 
witnessed its operations for an hour or two with much satisfaction, and cannot but regard 
it as an invention of a most singular and ingenious kind, and one which is entitled to public 
favor, as promising to introduce much additional expedition and economy into one of the 
most expensive and critical operations of agriculture. As a first thought the machine is ad- 
mirable, reflecting great credit on the mechanicle capacity of its youthful inventor, and when 
improved in detail as experience shall suggest, will, as they confidently expect, be an acquisi- 
tion of value and importance to the general husbandry. 

Wm. C. Preston, of S. C. 
J. McDowell, Jun. 
The undersigned have seen in operation a reaping machine invented by Mr. Cyrus H. 
McCormick, of Rockbridge County, Virginia. It was drawn by two horses driven by a boy ; 
cuts six feet wide, smooth and clean, and is attended by a man who with a rake delivers 
the grain in bunches ready for tying up. We were satisfied that the grain was cut cleaner 
and saved with less waste than in the ordinary way. From an estimate in cutting a piece 
of oats, we believe that it will cut an acre in half an hour over smooth ground. We consider 
it a valuable acquisition to the agricultural community, and recommend it to the patronage 
of the public. 

Sam'l McD. Reid, 
Hugh B.^rclay, 
John Jord.\n, 
P. P. Burton, 
J. Alexander, 
W. H. Carruthers, 
Wm. Taylor, 

J. W. Douglas, (except as to 
the "estimate," which he did 
not make.) 

The signers of the first certificate given above were both men of national 
prominence. James McDowell was later a member of Congress and governer of 
Virginia, and William C. Preston was a United States Senator from South Caro- 
lina. The signers of the second certificate were the most prominent men in 
the community. Samuel McDowell Reid was clerk of the county court and prob- 
ably the most popular and influential citizen of his day. William Taylor was a 
meinber of Congress, and John Alexander was a brother of the celebrated Dr. 
Archibald Alexander, of Princeton. 

Cyrus secured his patent, as already stated, June 21, 1834, but there was as 
yet no demand for reapers, and it was five years before he began to manufacture 
them for sale. Meanwhile his father gave him a farm of 300 acres on South 
River near Midvale Station, where with two of the family servants he made his 
residence. His attention was soon diverted from farming to the deposits of iron 
ore in the neighboring mountains, and he and his father formed a partnership 
with John S. Black for the purpose of erecting a smelting furnace for the manu- 
facture of pig iron. Having acquired some mineral lands, they erected a fur- 


nace four miles north of Vesuvius and named the plant "The Cotopaxi Iron 
Works," after the great volcano in South America. The price of pig iron 
was then about $50.00 a ton, and so eager was Cyrus to get the enterprise started 
that he helped in laying the stone to build the stack. The furnace had been in 
operation about four years when the company failed. The financial panic which 
began in the great commercial centers in 1837 was not immediately felt in this 
remote section, but the price of iron finally fell. The furnace had been built 
and the preparatory work begun while the country was in a state of prosperity 
and prices high. The company had scarcely begun turning out its full output of 
pig iron when the price fell fifty per cent, and the supply of ore from the mines 
on which they relied began to fail. Debts began to accumulate, and under these 
conditions the enterprise collapsed in 1839. Black had previously transferred his 
prcipcrty to a relative for the benefit of his personal creditors, so that the entire 
indebtedness of the company fell on the McCormicks. Cyrus relinquished his 
farm on South River to pay his debts, and his father had a hard struggle for 
several years to save the old homestead, "Walnut Grove." Every cent of the 
indebtedness was finally paid. Later in life Cyrus said with reference to this 
failure: "All this I have since felt to be one of the best lessons of my business 
experience. If I had succeeded in the iron enterprise, I would perhaps never 
have had suflicient determination and perseverance in the pursuit of tiiy reaper 
enterprise to have brought it to the present stage of success." 

Meanwhile Cyrus was still working on the reaper and endeavoring to im- 
prove its several parts so as to be able to turn out a perfect machine. Im- 
proved castings were made under his personal supervision in the foundry at 
Cotopaxi. When the iron business failed father and son began the building of 
reapers at the old forge at "Walnut Grove," and in order to promote the sale 
field trials were again given, the first near Staunton, as appears from the follow- 
ing advertisement in the Spectator of July 18, 1839: 

At the rc<iucst of Mr. Joseph Smith and others the Subscriber will exhil>it his patent 
reaping niacbine ctitlwiK oats on the Scott Farm of Mr. Smith on the l^xiuKlon Koad three 
mile» Kiiith of Slaiitilon, on Tuesday the 23rd instant, at which time (say 10 or II o'clock) 
•nd place, Per»on> to whom it may \>c convenient and who may be desirous of seeing the 
machine operate, can have an op|>ortunity to do *o. The SubKril>er in consequence of other 
en({aRrmenls and a failure in the crop of Rrain has done noihinK with the machine for 
several years, until recently, since which he has made some im|Mirlanl improvements U|K)n 
it lie has cut with it dum vent harvest almul 75 acres of wheal and rye and 

thinks its i-erfrirmancc now ii It will cut one and a half or two acres an hour 

with two hiirscs and two hands leaving the grain in sheaves ready for tying and will cut 
and save the grain much cleaner than the ordinary mode of cradling, whether it be tangle 
or straight. The machine is not complicated or liable to gel out of order, but is entirely 
durable and will cost about $50. 

C. H. McCoiwicK. 


A week later Tlie Spectator published the following editorial account of the 
field test, which shows that the machine worked much more smoothly than at the 
earlier tests in the neighborhood of Lexington. General Kenton Harper, editor 
of the paper, was one of those who witnessed the test. He wrote : 

We have just returned from the exhibition of Mr. McCormick's Reaping Machine and 
to say we were pleased with its operation would but poorly express the gratification we 
experienced. It is certainly an admirable invention. It moves through the grain with speed 
at a brisk walk, cutting a swath of about six feet without leaving a head. The machine 
is fi.xed on truck wheels with a knife in front to which the grain is brought in by arms 
fixed on a light wheel above and thrown on an apron behind from which it is raked off by 
a person who walks along the side. The machine is quite simple and cheap, costing not 
more than $50. A large number of gentlemen (farmers and others) were present, and as 
far as we heard, all were delighted with its operation. 

The exhibition on the Smith farm was witnessed not only by the farmers of 
the community, but by many of the most prominent professional and business 
men of Staunton. In The Spectator of August 1 there was published a long 
account of the test, which begins: "The undersigned having witnessed the opera- 
tion of Mr. Cyrus H. McCormick's improved patent Reaping Machine, in cutting 
oats, on the farm of Mr. Joseph Smith, take pleasure in bearing testimony to 
its admirable and satisfactory performance, and in recommending it to the at- 
tention of all large farmers." This statement was signed by twelve of the most 
widely known citizens of Augusta County — Abraham Smith, George Eskridge, 
Joseph Bell, Joseph Smith, Wm. W. Donaghe, Silas H. Smith, Nicholas C. 
Kinney, Edward Valentine, Kenton Harper, James Points, Benjamin Crawford, 
and Solomon D. Coiner. This testimonial was published by Cyrus H. McCormick 
as an advertisement in the Richmond Enquirer of December 12, 14, and 17, 
1839, and January 25 and 28, 1840. 

All of Cyrus's energies were now devoted to the manufacture and sale of 
reapers. The following advertisement inserted by him in the Staunton Spectator 
September 23, 1841, shows that his years of patient labor had not been without 
results : 

The Undersigned now offers his PATENT REAPING MACHINE to the public, upon 
terms that cannot be unsafe to them, having now satisfied himself tliat after several years' 
labor and attention in improving and completing the machine, he has triumphantly succeeded 
in effecting his object with as much perfection as the principle admits of, or is now de- 
sirable; performing all that could be expected, viz: the cutting of all kinds of small grain, 
in almost all the various situations in which it may be found; whether level or (moderately) 
hilly lands; whether long or short, heavy or light, straight, tangled, or leaning, in the best 
possible manner, by a machine operated by horse power, with little friction or strain upon 
any of its parts, and without complication, and therefore not subject to get out of order, 
but strong and durable — that operates with great saving of labor and grain. 

The same issue of The Spectator contains an interesting account of a field 
test at Bridgewater, Rockingham county, the county adjoining Augusta on the 


north, and the success of the experiment was testified to by a number of the 
leading citizens. One of the witnesses, Colonel Edward Smith, wrote an account 
of this test for the Soulhcni Planter, the leading agricultural journal of the 
South, published at Richmond, and it appeared in the November issue, 1841. By 
1842 the reaper had attracted the attention of farmers in all sections of the 
state, and nuincrnus notices and advertisements appeared in the daily papers and 
agricultural journals. 

Meanwhile McCormick's principal rival, Obed Hussey, began selling some of 
his machines in Virginia, and in the harvest of 1843 McCormick accepted a chal- 
lenge from Hussey for a competitive test near Richmond. This was the first of a 
series of contests which became a favorite method of promoting the sale of 
reapers and afforded rare amusement to the farmers. Field contests between 
different types of machines became especially popular in the West and were car- 
ried to great extremes. In some instances machines were drawn by four horses 
at a gallop through weeds, briars, brush, and saplings to see which could stand 
the most abuse. The following notice of the first cnnipetitive field test appeared 
in the Richmond Btiquircr of June 27. 1843 : 

Farmers, ATTEND I 

From the following challenge, we may look out for some "rare fun" — not on the 
"battle" but on the "wheat" field. \Vc had expected *onie such trial of skill between the 
two master spirits of reaping, Messrs. McCormick and Hussey: and for the sake of the 
true farmer, as well as the amateur, we are glad that the sport is likely to come off to 
soon. The present contest, will, in all probability, decide the merits of one or the other of 
these labor saving machines; and we, therefore, invite a full attendance of the "Krights 
of the Plow-share." Much good always follows such a struggle for sui)eriority, conducted, 
as it will be, in the most friendly spirit. It will be a beautiful thing, to see these two grand 
and i>owcrful machines moving at a quick pace, and in their course, mowing down oceans 
of wheat. Should we, unfortunately, not be able to attend, we hope some of our farmer 
friends will tend ut a sketch. 

An account of the contest with the report of the committee appears in the 
Enquirer, July 4, 1843: 

On Friday last, according to the challenge given and accepted, the contest came off 
between McCormick's and Hussey'* Reaping Machines. The Chamf de Mars was a wheat 
field of Mr. Ambrose Hutcheson'i, near 4 miles from Richmond, under an equal sky and 
a burning tun. The spectators numbered from forty to fifty: and principally consisted of 
farmers, who took a deep interest in the events of the day. A committee of five were ap- 
pointed Judges of the Lists — and after the action was over, they made up the following 
rcpfirt, which we have l«een requested lo publish. We are also advised, that the two 
machines will again l)e run together on the wheat fields of Tree Hill, the beautiful farm 
of William H. Roan, Esq., where those who feel any curiosity on this interesting subject, 
will have a fair opportunity of testing and comparing the operations of the rival Machines. 
We are requested by the Proprietor to give a general invitation to farmers and others, to 
attend this experiment on Wednesday, (tomorrow). 


i;i'.(;i«»( If <M l\\K\T!'>N< \VI) IMI'KUV liMENTS. 

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The undersigned were called upon, at the farm of Mr. A. Hutcheson, to witness the per- 
formance of the wheat reaping machines, invented by Cyrus H. McCormick and Obed 
Hussey, and to decide upon the merits of the same. We are unanimously of opinion, that 
both of them are valuable inventions, and richly merit the encouragement of the farming 
community. They both performed most admirably. The committee feel great reluctance in 
deciding between them. But, upon the whole, prefer McCormick's. 

C. W. GoocH, 
W. H. Roane, 
James Pae, 
Curtis Carter, 
Francis Staples. 

From 1839 to 1844 McCormick was engaged in the manufacture and sale 
of machines at his father's farm. The sales were at first slow and discouraging. 
The record of sales during the life of the original patent, which expired in 
1848, is as follows: 1841, two; 1842, seven; 1843, twenty-nine; 1844, fifty; 
1845, fifty; 1846, 190; 1847, 450; making in the aggregate 778 machines, on 
which he received an average of $20.00 for his patent right. 

In 18-14 seven orders had come for "Virginia Reapers'" from the West, 
two from Tennessee, and one each from Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and 
Ohio. These machines had to be hauled in wagons over the mountains to Scotts- 
ville in Albemarle County, then sent by canal to Richmond, then down the James 
to Norfolk, then shipped to New Orleans, then sent up the Mississippi by river 
boat to various points, from which they finally reached the farmers who had 
ordered them. Four of them arrived too late for the harvest of 1844 and two 
of them were not paid for. Cyrus finally decided to go West where the land 
was level and labor scarce. Setting out with $300.00 in his belt he went up 
through Pennsylvania to Western New York, then to Michigan, Wisconsin, 
Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio. On this trip he gave public exhibitions in the 
harvest field of the machines he had sold, and on his return by way of Cincinnati 
he made a contract for the manufacture of 150 machines in that city for the 
harvest of 1845. From Cincinnati he went to Brockport, New York, where he 
contracted for the manufacture of 200 machines, most of which were to be 
shipped to the West through the Erie Canal. He also arranged for the construc- 
tion of 100 machines at Chicago for the harvest of 1846, and for 100 more at 
points west of Chicago. This trip through the West revealed a new world to 
McCormick. He quickly realized that while the reaper was a luxury in Virginia, 
it was a necessity on the great plains of the West. After a brief visit to Virginia 
he returned to the West to superintend personally the construction of maciiines, 
first at Cincinnati, and then at Brockport, both of which were convenient points 
for the distribution of reapers. But with unerring judgment or intuition he 


soon concluded tliat Giicago was the strategic point for the creation of a great 
industry. So in 184S he went to Giicago, tlicn a village of 10,000 people, with 
muddy streets, stretching along the Lake front. Here he formed a i)artnership 
with William B. Ogden, the first mayor of the town, who gave $25,000 for a 
half interest in the business. The next year he bought out Ogden's interest for 
$.50,000 and sent for his brother Leander to come out and supervise the machine 
shops. In 1850 his other brother, William, was persuaded to come out to manage 
the financial side of the business. He gave each of them an interest in the 
enterprise. McCormick's choice of Qiicago was most fortunate for him, and 
an event of great significance in the history of the West. The reaper industry and 
the city grew up together. 

In 1848 Cyrus McCormick applied for an extension of his original patent, 
which was about to expire. The patent law at that time limited the term of 
a patent to fourteen years, but provided that under certain circumstances the 
inventor might make application for an extension of the patent for seven more 
years. The law required that when such application was made the Commissioner 
of Patents should cause to be published in one or more of the newspapers of 
Washington and in such other paper or papers as he deemed proper, published 
in the section of the country interested most adversely against the issue of the 
patent, notice of such application and the time and place where it would be 
consulered, and that any person might appear and show cause why the extension 
should not be granted. The Secretary of State, the Solicitor of the Treasury, 
and the Commissioner of Patents constituted the board to hear the evidence and 
to decide for or against the extension. The patentee was required to submit under 
oath a statement of all receipts and expenditures so as to show fully the profits 
accruing to him from his invention. The law further provided that, "if, upon 
a hearing of the matter, it shall appear to full and entire satisfaction of said 
board, having due regard to the public interest therein, that it is just and 
proper that the term of the patent shall be extended hy reason of the patentee, 
without neglect or fault on his part, having failed to obtain in the use and sale 
of his invention a reasonable renuincration for the time, ingenuity, and expense 
bestowed upon the same and introduction thereof into use, it sli.-ill lie the duty 
of the Commissioner to renew and extend the patent." 

McCormick, acting in person and without the assistance of counsel, made 
npi'lication for an extension of his patent, and Hussey apjuared to represent the 
< j i Msition thereto. Hussey's patent, it will be rememl>ered, had been issued a 
few months prior to McCormick's, and it expired the latter part of December, 
1847. Ten or twelve days Ixrfore the expiration of Hussey's patent he applied 
to the Commissioner of Patents for an extension, but as the rules of the Board 
required that notice of an application for extension should be published at 


least three weeks prior to the hearing, his application was not received. Hussey, 
therefore, decided to make a fight against the extension of McCorniick's patent, 
arguing that McCormick had been abundantly rewarded by sales of his patent 
rights and by extensive sales of his machines, that the extension of the McCor- 
mick patent would injure him, and that certain elements of the invention were 
to be found in earlier foreign publications. As McCormick claimed that several 
features of the Hussey machine had been invented and employed by him two 
years before the issuance of Hussey 's patent, the Commissioner granted Mc- 
Cormick 's request for a continuation of the hearing until he could take testimony 
in substantiation of his claims. McCormick secured affidavits from Dr. N. M. 
Hitt, John Steele, Jr., and from his mother and two brothers to the effect that 
his machine was invented and used in cutting wheat and oats in the harvest 
of 1831. The statement of his mother and brothers was as follows : 

Walnut Grove, Feby. 17, 1848. 
The undersigned, mother and brothers of Cyrus H. McCormick, do hereby state, each 
for himself, (and herself) that during the harvest of Eighteen Hundred and thirty-one 
said C. H. McCormick did have constructed and put into operation in cutting wheat on this 
farm, and oats on the farm of Mr. Jno. Steele, (a near neighbor), a Reaping Machine for 
which a patent was granted to him on the 21st day of June, 1834. When used in cutting 
the oats at Mr. Steele's as aforesaid this machine we believe was essentially the same in 
principle as when patented, as above. * * * The undersigned do further state that said 
C. H. McCormick did make great efforts from time to time to introduce said machine into 
general use, but found many difficulties to contend with, which caused much delay in 
accomplishing the same. And they further state that they have no interest in the patent of 
said Reaping Machine. 

Wm. S. McCormick, 
L. J. McCormick, 
Mary McCormick. 

These affidavits were submitted to the Board at its hearing February 24, 
1848. As this testimony was ex parte, the Board ordered, "That the further 
hearing of this application be postponed to Wednesday, the twenty-ninth day of 
March next, and that the said McCormick be directed to furnish satisfactory 
testimony that the invention of his machine was prior to the invention of a 
similar machine by Obed Hussey, and that he be directed to give due notice to the 
said Hussey of the time and place of taking said testimony." 

McCormick then gave due notice to Hussey, and tlie latter appeared at 
Steele's Tavern, where the signers of the affidavits above referred to were cross- 
qustioned for two days by McCormick and Hussey, March 17 and 18, 1848. 
When the Board met again March 29tli, they refused to grant the extension, and 
the following entry was made on the record: 

March 29, 1848— Board met agreeable to adjournment. Present: James Buchanan, 
Secretary of State; Edmund Burke, Commissioner of Patents; and R. H. Gillct, Solicitor of 


the Treasury, and having examined the evidence adduced in the case, decided that iaid 
patent ought not to be extended. 

James Buchanan, Secretary of State. 

Edmund Burke, Commissioner of Patents. 

R. H. GiiXET, Solicitor of the Treasury. 

Edmund liurkc, the Commissioner of Patents, stated later to a committee of 
the Senate tliat the decision of the Board was not based on the merits of the case, 
but on the fact that the testimony had been "informally taken." The only 
redress open to McCormick was an appeal to Congress for an extension of his 
patent, and this he promptly made. Such appeals were frequently made at that 
time. But opposition to the extension of McCormick's patent was not confined 
to Ilussey. Rival manufacturers of reapers and their paid attorneys urged the 
farmers of the country to oppose the extension of McCormick's patent, and 
Congress was flooded with petitions from farmers, protests of manufacturers, 
and even resolutions from State legislatures. McCormick's fight for the pro- 
tection of his patent rights was continued in Congress and in the United States 
courts for fifteen years. It became, in fact, a cause celrbrc, and mnay of the 
ablest lawyers of that period were engaged on one side or the other, .•\mong 
them were Harding, Watson, Uickerson, Rcverdy Johnson, Douglas, Seward, 
Staunton, and Lincoln. Toward the end of the fight in Congress the anti- 
McCormick lobby became so active that Senator Brown, of Mississippi, made 
the following protest on the floor of the Senate: 

Why, Mr. President, if it were not for the parties out of doors — parties without in- 
ventive genius — parties without the genius to invent a mouse trap or a fly kilter, who are 
pirating on this great invention of McCormick's — speaking through their attorneys to the 
Senate, there would never have been an hour's delay in gr.-iiiiing all that McCormick asks 
in the bill. I know, and state here, in the face of the .-Xmcrican Senate and the world, 
that these men have beset me at every corner of the streets with their papers and their 
affidavits — men who have no claim to the ear of the country — men who have rendered it 
no service, but who have invested their paltry dollars in the production of a manufacture 
which sprang from the mind of another man, and now, for their own gain, employ lawyers 
to draw cunning afrKlavit.s, to devise cunning schemes, and put on foot all sorts of machinery 
to defeat this application. 

The wide-spread and persistent opposition to the extension of McCormick's 
patent is the most convincing evidence of the recognized value of the invention 
and of the fact that experience demonstrated it to be essential to the successful 

Committees appointed by the Senate .tnd the House, respectively, after ex- 
amining the matter, reported in favor of a special act .luthorizing the extension. 
The report of the Committee on Patents of the Senate, March .W. 1852, which 
was afterwards adopted by the corresponding committee of the House, February 
23, 1855, stated that Husscy having appeared before the Patent Board to oppose 



McCormick's application for extension, an order had been made that McCormick 
should go into proof of priority of invention as between him and Obed Hussey." 
The report further stated : 

That such order of the board was based upon the fact that the patent of the said 
Hussey bore date previous to the date of the petitioner's first patent, and thus, prima facie, 
said Hussey appeared to be the first inventor. 

That testimony was thereupon taken, in compHance with the order of the board ; and 
by the proof submitted on the part of said McCormick, it appeared conclusively that he 
invented his machine, and first practically and publicly tested its operation, in the harvest 
of 1831. That no proof on the part of the said Hussey appears to have geen submitted 
to the said board, as to the date of his said invention; but from the exhibits referred to 
your committee, it appears that his machine was first constructed and operated in 1833. 

The report of the .Senate committee also contained the following state- 
ment from Edmund Burke, Commissioner of Patents at the time that McCormick 
made his application for an extension : 

I will now give my views with regard to the merits of the invention itself. I do not 
hesitate to say that it is one of very great merit. In agriculture, it is in my view as im- 
portant, as a labor-saving device, as the spinning-jenny and power-loom in manufacture. 
It is one of those great and valuable inventions which commence a new era in the progress 
of improvement, and whose beneficial influence is felt in all coming time; and. I do not 
hesitate to say, that the man whose genius produces a machine of so much value, should 
make a large fortune out of it. It is not possible for him to obtain during the whole exist- 
ence of the term of his patent, a tenth part of the value of the labor saved to the community 
by it in a single year. Therefore I was in favor of its extension. 

There were, however, other reasons which induced me to favor its extension. One was 
the fact that the machine was one which could be used only a few weeks in each year. 
Therefore, for want of an opportunity to test it, its perfections must be a work of time 
and tediousness. It is not like the steam-engine and other machines in common use. upon 
which improvements may be at any time tested. Therefore, the invention and perfection 
of a reaping machine must be a work of slow progress. And such was the case with 
McCormick's machine. He was many years experimenting upon it before he succeeded 
in making a machine that would operate, as the testimony before the board (although infor- 
mal) clearly proved. In the next place it is a machine which was difficult to introduce into 
public use. It was imperfect in its operation at first. It had to encounter the prejudice 
and the doubts and fears of agriculturists. And it appeared in proof, that Mr. :NfcCormick 
was not able to sell but very few machines, until two or three years before the expiration 
of his first patent, which covered the leading original principles of his invention. Under that 
patent he never received anything like an adequate compensation for the really great inven- 
tion which he had produced. And I now repeat what I have always said, that his patent 
should be extended. With regard to the conflicts of rights and interest between him and 
Mr. Hussey, it is proper for me to remark, that when both of these patents were granted, 
the Patent Office made no examination upon the points of originality and priority of in- 
vention, but granted all patents applied for, as a matter of course. Therefore, it is no 
certain evidence that, because an alleged inventor procured a patent before his rival, 
he was the first and original inventor. It, in fact, was a circumstance of very little weight 
in its bearing irpon the question of priority between the parties. Besides, the testimony of 


Mr. McComick presented to the board of extension clearly proved that he invented and 
put in operation his machine in 1831, two years before the date of Hussey's patent. 

The Senate committee went fully into the question of the amount of profits 
derived from the patent and found tliat the whole amount was less than 
twenty-three thousand dollars. The report concluded with the following sen- 
tence: "It would seem that, havinp done something for himself, while doing 
much for the country, his claims to the extension of the first patent, under which 
he failed to realize adequate rcmnueration. in accordance with the provisions of 
the law. should not be less than if he had done nothing for either." 

Not only was McCormick denied an extension of his original patent, but he 
was unable to secure an extension of his subsidiary patents of 1845 and 1847 
for improvements on the machine. An extensive organization was formed 
throughout the country to resist the extension and to bring to bear pressure upon 
Congress for that purpose by petitions, by letters to their representatives, and by 
resolutions of State legislatures. Circular letters were issued representing that 
the cfToct of such extension of the monopoly would he to compel all manufacturers 
and farmers to pay tribute to McCormick. The applications were denied, it 
would appear, on grounds of alleged public policy, in reality as the result of 
political pressure. The Commissioners of Patents could not refrain, however, 
from paying their tribute to McCormick. Although denying the application 
for an extension of the patent of 1845, Joseph Holt said (1859) of the appli- 
cant : "He has been so fort imate as to link his name indisoluhly with a macliinc 
which, unless outstripped in the race of progress, may endure as a proud 
memorial, so long as the ripening grain shall wave over the boundless plains 
of the West, or the songs of the reaper shall be heard in its har\'est fields." 
In denying the application for the extension of the patent of 1847. D. P. 
Hollow.ny, Commissioner of Patents, paid the following tribute to McCormick 
(October 20. 1861): "Cyrus Hall McCormick is an inventor, whose fame, 
while he is yet living, has spread lhr<mghriut the world. His genius has done 
honor to his own country, and has been tlie admiration of foreign nations, and 
he will live in the grateful recollection of mankind as long as the reaping ma- 
chine is employed in gathering the harvest." 

In the suit of McCormick v. Seymour, in the United States Circuit Court 
for the Northern District of New York, involving the question of validity and 
infringment of the McCormirk patent of 1845. the defend.nnts, in order to 
disparage McCormick's invention, introduced a large ainotmt of evidence, in- 
cluding the Husscy patent and the testimony of Hussey, other devices before 
experimented with in this count rv, and evidence concerning a machine allgeed to 
have been invented by Patrick Rell, described in Loudon's F,iirvclop,r(iia, ptihlished 
in London in 1831, and there represented to have Ix-en built and experitnented 


with in 1828 and 1829. The charge to the jury in this case was delivered by 
Justice Nelson, of the United States Supreme Court. After speaking of the early 
Bell machine as an experiment which had not been successful, Justice Nelson said 
(3 Blatch. 216) : 

In point of fact, therefore, it would seem, for aught that appears from the testimony 
in this case, that notwithstanding there have been seven attempts, and six of those American, 
to construct a successful reaping machine, but two out of the seven have ultimately become 
beneficial and useful instruments for the purposes for which they were constructed — 
that is, the machine of Hussey and the machine of McCormick. It appears, from the 
evidence in the case, that Hussey and McCormick turned their attention to the construction 
of a reaping machine very nearly at the same period — McCormick two or three years the 
earlier. They have persevered from that time down to the present, and they have each of 
them, it is conceded, brought out a successful reaping machine. .-Ml the others failed, failed 
early, gave up the pursuit, and abandoned their machines. 

In this case there was a verdict of the jury for the complainant awarding 
$7,750.00 as damages, and judgment was entered in favor of complainant for 
over $10,000.00. The case was carried to the Supreme Court of the United 
States as Seymour v. McCormick, (19 How. 96). That court aiTirmed the 
judgment below except with respect to the taxation of costs, and gave McCormick 
the full amoimt of damages awarded. 

In the subsequent suit of McCormick v. Manny and others for the infringe- 
ment of the patents of 1845 and 1847, Justice McClean, of the United States 
Supreme Court, after finding that no infringment was shown, concluded his 
opinion as follows (6 McCIcan 557) : 

Having arrived at the result, that there is no infringment of the plaintiff's patent by 
the defendant, as charged in the bill, it is announced with greater satisfaction, as it in no 
respect impairs the right of the plaintiff. He is left in full possession of his invention, 
which has so justly secured to him, at home and in foreign countries, a renown honorable to 
him and to his country — a renown which can never fade from the memory, so long as the 
harvest home shall be gathered." 

Although as the result of widespread opposition stirred up by rival manu- 
facturers, neither the Patent Office nor Congress would grant McCormick an 
extension of either his original or subsidiary patents, he succeeded, neverthe- 
less, by sheer force of ability, in keeping ahead of all competitors. He did this by 
continually improving his reaper through the adoption of new devices and by 
the creation of business methods wliich carried his machine into every section of 
his own country and into all the great harvest fields of the world. He sold his 
machines on credit, and he made it a rule never to sue a farmer for the price of 
a reaper. 

It was shortly after the expiration of his first patent that his triumphs in the 
way of formal recognition of the value of his invention began. In 1851 he was 
awarded the silver medal of the Michigan State Agricultural Society, the gold 



medal of tlic Mechanics' Institute of Qiicago, the first premium of the Franklin 
Institute of riiiladcl])liia. and the first premium of the State Agricuhural Society 
of Wisconsin; in 1852 he was awarded the tirst premium of liic IVunsylvania 
Sufc Agricultural Society and the gold medal of the New York Sute Agricuhural 
Society. Hut his greatest triumi)h was the Council Medal of the World's Fair 
at London, 1851, the first great international exposition. Here the reaper 
created a veritable sensation. The London Times of September 27, 1851, said: 

"It will be remembered that the American department was at first regarded 
as the poorest and least interesting of all foreign countries. Of late it has justly 
assumed a position of the first importance, as having brought to the aid of our 
distressed agriculturists a machine, which, if it realizes the anticipations of com- 
petent judges, will amply remunerate England for all her outlay connected 
with the great exhibition. The reaping machine from the United States is the 
most valuable contribution from abroad to the stock of our previous knowledge 
that we have yet discovered, and several facts in connection with it are not a 
little remarkable." Mr. Pusey, a member of Parliament, and one of the committee 
of award, said in a letter to the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society: 
"It's novelty of action reminded one of seeing the first engine run on the Liver- 
pool and Manchester Railway in 1830. • ♦ ♦ It is certainly strange that 
we shopld not have had it over before, nor indeed, should we have it now, but 
for the great Exhibition, to whose royal originator the English farmer is dearly 
indebted for the introduction of the most important addition to farming ma- 
chinery that has been invented since the threshing machine first took the jilacc 
of the flail." 

Referring to the sensation created by McCormick's reaper at the London 
Exhibition, William H. Seward, in an argument before the Circuit Court of the 
United States in 1854, said : "The reaper of 1834, as improved in '45, achieved 
for its inventor a triumph which all then felt and acknowledged was not more 
a personal one than it was a National one. It was justly so regarded. No 
General or Consul drawn in a chariot through the streets of Rome by order of the 
Senate, ever conferred upon m.mkind benefits so great as he who thus vindicated 
the genius of our country at the World's Exhibition of Art in the Metropolis 
of the British Empire." 

This was merely the first of a series of European triumphs achieved by 
McCormick. A few years later he received the cross of the Legion of Honor 
at the hands of the Emperor I-ouis Napoleon, and a similar decoration from 
the Emjieror of Austria. He was elected corresjMjnding mcmljer of the French 
A< ' f Sciences "as having done more for the cause of agriculture than any 

otl • .; man." 

Rcvcrdy Johnson said in 1859 in an argument before the Commissioner of 





tiivriitiir of ilic Wilccix and (jilili> ScwiiiK Machine 



Patents: "He (McCormick) has contributed an annual income to the whole 
country of fifty millions of dollars at least, which must increase through all time." 

Some idea as to the tremendous significance of the reaper as an economic 
factor in the life of the nation may be formed from the following expressions. 
Edwin M. Stanton said: "The reaper is to the North what slavery is to the South. 
By taking the place of regiments of young men in the Western harvest fields, 
it releases them to do battle for the Union at the front, and at the same time 
keeps up the supply of bread for the nation and the nation's armies. Thus, 
without McCormick's invention I fear the North could not win, and the Union 
would be dismembered." In the same address Stanton, pointing to a map to 
prove his statement, said that "McCormick's invention in Virginia, thirty years 
before, had carried permanent civilization westward more than fifty miles a 
year." Seward once made substantially the same statement as to the effect 
of the reaper in carrying the frontier westward at a rapid rate. 

The reaper has made life easier for the toiling millions and enabled the 
production of food to keep pace with the vast increase of population. The name 
of Cyrus Hall McCormick is one that Rockbridge County may well hold in 
proud remembrance. 


In the latter half of the eighteenth century the more civilized nations were 
slowly yet surely feeling their way toward an abandonment of the well-nigh ex- 
clusive absence of labor-saving machinery which had been true of the world's 
hi.story since time immemorial. The movement has been marked by a constant 
gain in momentum, and by the middle of the nineteenth century the ultimate 
dominance of machinery was an assured fact. This tendency of the age had 
first to obtain a mastery over the stubborn conservatism which even yet influences 
the greater portion of mankind. Thus the first practical sewing-machine, the 
device of a French tailor, excited the rage of a furious Parisian crowd in 1841. 
The little factory was wrecked and the inventor was nearly murdered. 

Yet the French machine aroused very little attention in Europe. It was in 
America that mechanical sewing was perfected. About 18.M, Walter Hunt, of 
the state of New York, elaborated a machine with a vibrating arm, a curved, 
eye-pointed needle, an oscillating shuttle, and a lockstitch action. But no patent 
was sought, and no serious attempt was made to exploit the invention. An 
Englishman saw his opportunity and patented the needle in 1841. The first 
patent for a lock-stitch machine was taken out by Elias Howe, of Massachusetts, 
in 1846. and yet the essential features in his device were present in Hunt's. 
Allen B. Wilson came forward in 1850 with a rotary hook and bobbin combination 
and a feed for making the cloth move after each stitch. Next year William O. 


Grovcr, a Boston tailor, patented his double chain-stitch action, and a differing 
machine was patented by Isaac M. Singer. These four machines, the Howe, 
the Wlicclcr and Wilson, the Grovcr and Raker, and the Singer, were holding 
the field when James E. A. Gibbs appeared with his chain-stitch invention in 
1856. All four were crude and noisy as compared with the artistic machines of 
the twentieth centurj'. At first the apparatus was designed to lie on a table or 
other support, and to be turned by the right hand. The foot-working .iti.ich- 
ment came later. 

Richard Gibbs, born in Connecticutt in 1788, became fatherless when only 
(our years old, and was sent to \'ermont to be reared by a Mr. Allen, a great 
uncle. The boy was a descendant in the male line of John Gibbs. an early settler 
of the Nutmeg State. On the maternal side he sprang from John Burr, John 
Talcot, one of the founders of Hartford, and Joseph Hawlcy. an ancestor of 
the late United States Senator of the same name. Ab<Hit 1815 Richard Gibbs 
came to Fairfax county in a wagon, bringing the first carding machinery yet 
seen in the Old Dominion. A carding mill on Bull Run proved unsuccessful 
because of the unfavorable influence of the slavery system. In quest of a more 
favorable location, he came to Rockbridge, and thus secured somewhat of the 
advant.nge which would have been his had he gone Westward rather than 
Southward. In this county he spent the rest of his days, his death taking 
place in 1858 at the age of seventy. In 1819 he was married to Isabella G. 
Poagiie, of the Raphinc neighborhood. His health permanently failed, but he 
followed the carding business until his mill was destroyed by fire in 1845. 

James Edward Allen Gibbs, son of Richard and Isabella, was born near 
Raphine, August 1, 1829. Until he was sixteen he carded in the summer season 
and went to school in the winter. After the burning of his father's mill he 
left home with no more than his mother's blessing and the clothes he wore. 
For a while he continued to work at the carding trade. For a year or so he 
operated a carding mill at Lexington, leasing it from the owner, but the experi- 
ence threw him itito dibt. /MMiMt 1850 lie went to Huntersville, then the county 
scat of Pocahontas, where he was taken into the carding business as a partner, 
but the mill was not financially successful and he sold out his interest. He per- 
ceived that carding was Ixring ab.sorlK'd by the large woolen factories that were 
springing up. It was in this village that Gibbs originated his first invention, 
which was an improvement in carding machinery. He was without the means 
to follow up his discovery, and the machine was not patented. 

The next fifteen years in the career of the young man mark a period of 
vicissitude. He joined a surveying party in the woods of Randolph and cut 
his right knee. His comrades bandaged the wound as well as thev could, left 
him on a flat rock with ftKxI, water, rifle, and ammunition, and went fifteen miles 



for help and a stretcher. He was in some danger from the wolves, panthers, 
and bears that haunted the unbroken wilderness, but there was no other harm than 
the delay in a proper treatment of his hurt. Gibbs was taken to the house of 
Alexander Logan at Mingo Flat, where he lay six months, crippled with a 
white swelling. He had nothing with which to pay his kind entertainers, and 
nothing was exacted from him. But when his circumstances had become easy, 
he remembered William Logan, the young man who was his principal nurse, and 
set him up in business at Midway. 

After his recovery, Gibbs went to Nicholas county, and in the winter of 
1851-52 built a saw and gristmill for Colonel Samuel Given. It was in this 
household that he found a wife. He was married to Catharine Given, August 
25, 1852. The father-in-law offered 500 acres of land and the other essential help 
for a start in farming. Preferring to see what was going on in the world, Gibbs 
went back to Pocahontas, where he worked three years as a carpenter. The 
new trade was one he had never learned in any formal manner, yet he worked on 
a new courthouse at Huntersville, and was the architect of several buildings 
considered fine at that time. 

It was during this episode at the carpenter's bench that the attention of Gibbs 
was first drawn to the sewing machine. As yet he had never seen a sewing 
machine of any description, and his only knowledge was derived from a woodcut 
of a Grover and Baker machine. He studied the picture very much as the 
men of his day used to study the rebuses which were a feature of the newspapers. 
Yet Gibbs had the inventive insight to devise a successful revolving looper. 
This feat appeased his curiosity for the time and he thought little more about 
the matter. But several months later he saw a Singer machine and read the 
Patent Office description of the Grover and Baker machine. He perceived that 
his idea was new and patentable, but before securing his right, he took out two 
patents on other features. Gibbs was still too poor to indulge personally in the 
luxury of paying fees to the Patent Office, and to get himself "grub-staked," he 
sold a half interest to John H. Ruckman. 

The year 1857 was eventful. He visited Philadelphia to sell one of his 
early inventions, and there met James Wilcox, finding in him not only a business 
partner, but a lifetime friend. It was arranged that Gibbs should go to the 
shop of Wilcox and construct a model of his machine. In October, the two 
men entered into an agreement. The early patents were lost, but in June Gibbs 
had been granted a patent on the revolving looper which is the distinguishing 
feature of the Wilcox and Gibbs machine. Yet when the trial machine was nearly 
ready, the Patent Office announced what is known in patent law as an inter- 
ference. A Boston man instituted a lawsuit, and the priority of the Gibbs in- 
vention was so bitterly contested that it was not decided in his favor for thirty- 


three years. The Wilcox and Gibbs machine was placed on the market in Novem- 
ber, 1859, llic (aclory iK-ing located at Trovidence, Rhode Island. Wilcox put 
$25,000 into the business, but this did not prove enough. T. S. Arthur, then a 
noted publisher of Philadelphia, came to the rescue with a loan which enabled 
the enterprise to be pulled forward into comparatively smooth water. 

There had hitherto been many attempts to perfect a machine using a 
single tliread, but none had proved successful. Contrary to the belief of the 
sewing machine exi)erts of that day, Gibbs was able to demonstrate that a 
single thread would make the stronger and more durable stitch. But the four 
companies already in the field were fighting one another in a short-sighted 
manner. Each company controlled at least one feature that was needed by all 
the others. Kufus Oioate, a famous attorney, induced the several companies 
to live and let live. liach company was to use the patents of the others, so far 
as necessary, paying a royalty on them, and reserving the control of its own 
patent or patents. The invention of Gibbs was original, but as some of the 
features of the older machines had to be used in the new one, it was necessary 
to enter the combine. Several of the good points of the improved Wilcox and 
Gibbs machines are due to Charles Wilcox, the son of James. Silent work, one 
of the newer features, was a mania with the younger man. 

Gibbs spent two years at Philadelphia an<l Providence, giving his time to 
the successful launching of the new enterprise. Immediately after the news 
of the firing on Fort Sumter, in April, 1861, he left Providence to live on the 
farm he had purchased in Pocahontas. Matters political had a keen interest for 
Gibbs. He was a Democrat, and in the state campaign of 1855 he had made 
speeches in Pocahontas in favor of Henry A. Wise as a candidate for governor. 
For the Lcwisburg Chronicle he wrote a parody in ridicule of the American, 
or Know Nothing, party. In the present crisis his sympathies were with the 
extreme Southern program. He went on the stump in advocacy of secession, 
and went to Richmond to get arms and uniforms for the first company of cavalry. 
These uniforms were sewed on two of his machines. Old guns and pistols were 
repaired in his shop. He went out with the Pocahontas cavalry, hut his constitu- 
tion was never strong, and in three weeks he was sent home, ill with typhoid- 
pneumonia. The advance of a Federal army caused Gibbs to return as a refugee 
to his native county and neighborhood. He bought the farm near ILiphinc which 
became the nucleus of an extensive possession. In Rockbridge he was assigned 
to the ordnance service to superintend the making of saltpeter. When General 
Hunter approached, he was ordered out with his twenty men. and they fought 
in the battle of Piedmont. 

The return of peace found Gibbs in such financial straits that he was very 
desirous of knowing about his interest in the sewing machine business. His wife 
thought it unsafe for him to go North, yet he set out in June. ISTiS, after 
borrowing a bro.idcloth suit from a broilicr-ln-l.Tw After leaving Virginia 


he was shadowed all the way to the door of the sewing machine office by a detec- 
tive who thought he was Gibbs of Louisiana, a man whose name was associated 
with mortar guns. But when Gibbs entered the office of Wilcox, the detective 
recognized that he had been trailing a man who was not known to have been 
particularly harmful to the Federal cause. Wilcox received his partner with 
open arms, and politics stood "adjourned." The conversation scarcely ranged 
outside the sewing machine industry. The books of the company showed a 
credit to Gibbs of $10,000. The inventor was now, at the age of thirty-six, and 
for the first time in his life, a dweller on Easy Street. 

In 1866 the partnership between Wilcox and Gibbs gave place to a stock 
company. Of this, Mr. Gibbs was secretary and treasurer, and for some years 
it was necessary to spend a large share of his time in the North. But in the 
years immediately following the war he traveled extensively in the South, demon- 
strating his machine and establishing local agencies. In 1869 and again in 1870, 
he was called to the British Isles to defend his company in suits for infringment 
of patent. He continued to work for the company until 1886, a considerable share 
of his time being given to developing improvements in the machine. In all he took 
out twelve patents. The company is still in business, and more than one million 
of the Wilcox and Gibbs machines have been sold. The earlier patents have 
expired, but there is an income from the stock owned by the heirs. 

By 1874 Mr. Gibbs was in independent circumstances. After having seen 
much of the United States and considerable of Europe, he became settled in 
the opinion that no locality suited him so well as the one where he was born and 
had spent his boyhood. In 1866 he spent $6,000 in improving his estate, which 
he called Raphine. This word is derived from the Greek word raphis, which 
means a needle. He had seen it used in "My Raphine," the title of a sewing 
machine advertisement story. During tiie latter half of his life, Mr. Gibbs lived 
very contentedly in the comfortable brown country house on the border of the 
town of Raphine which is still occupied by his widow. When the Valley Rail- 
road came along, he donated to it a right of way through his lands, the distance 
being one mile and a fourth. The only condition he imposed was that he should 
name the station and determine its site. 

The only schooldays known to James E. A. Gibbs were those of the old 
field school, and they came to a close when he was only sixteen years of age. 
But there remained the impulse to intellectual improvement. He was not one 
of those who are content if they never outgrow the world of their boyhood. So 
he read and observed, and pondered on what he read and observed. He ended 
his second visit to Europe by making a considerable tour of the Continent. 
After he came to enjoy a comfortable income, he gradually provided himself a 
good library, and was recognized as a cultured, well-informed gentleman, inter- 
ested in lines of study quite outside the field of invention that gave him his 


wealth. His versatility was in thorough accord with his Connecticut ancestry, 
lie could survey a new road or build a house of complex design. He could 
suix-rinteiid a mill and unriddle many a mechanical problem. In 1861 he took 
out a Confederate patent on a breech-loading firearm. His last invention was a 
bicycle which he did not patent. Yet Mr. Gibbs was a man of very rural tastes, 
and he was at home in the management of his farm. His memory was very 
strong, and his power of concentrating his mind on a mechanical or other question 
was very unusual. In his opinions he was very positive, yet he was affable and 
tolerant. With the young he was popular, and he was an upholder of innocent 
amusements. He was a member of the Presbyterian communion, and was 
prominent in Sunday school work. Only once was Mr. Gibbs a candidate for 
an elective office. In 1879 he was a nominee of the Kunder wing of the 
Democratic party for a seat in the House of Delegates. But the Keadjuster 
wing was in the lead in this county, and he was defeated by a majority of about 
200 votes. 

The first wife of Mr. Gibbs was the mother of his four children. She 
died in 1887, and six years later he was married to Miss Margaret Craig, of 
Augusta county. Florence V., the eldest of the family, married Benjamin C. 
Rawlings, of Spottsylvania county ; Cornelia A. married Robert G. Davis, and 
moved with him to Hot Springs, Arkansas; Ellabcl B. iliarried John C. Moore; 
Ethel R. married first George E. Wade, and second. Lancelot C. Lockridge. 
The last named lives near Raphine on a portion of the paternal estate. Captain 
B. C. Rawlings, a native of Spottsylvania, was the first Virginian to volunteer 
for the Confederate army, and the youngest all-the-war .soldier. He joined the 
First South Carolina Regiment the first week in January, 1861, and sur- 
rendered with General Lee at A|)pomattox when twenty years and three months 
old. Before he was eighteen he was a lieutenant and commanded his company 
in the battle of Fredericksburg. He came to Rockbridge in 1874 and died on his 
farm near Raphine in 1908. His son. Doctor James E., of Florida, joined the 
British Expeditionary Army in the present war. 

Few other inventinns seem to have originated in this county. Samuel 
Houston, a progressive farmer, as well as a divine of long service, patented a 
thre.shing machine. Doctor William Graham, a nephew to the William Graham 
who figures so largely in the founding of Liberty Hall .\cademy, invented a 
fire extinguisher, the principle of which is the .same as that of the H.ibcock 
and other well known extinguishers. In recognition of the fact that Graham 
was first in this field, a patent was issued long after his death, and to his .nd- 
minislrator. Giarlcs H. IjxhcT is the inventor of an aerial dump used in excava- 
tion work. Probably the most striking of the inventive discoveries named in this 
paragraph arc those by Michael Miley on color photography. They were pef- 
{cctcd by himself alone. 




In three of the author's earlier works on local history lines of descent were 
traced from the original settlers, — so far as this could be ascertained, — and car- 
ried far enough forward to include the adult living posterity. This was possible 
only by reason of a small population and a comparatively small number of group- 

But family names in Rockbridge are exceedingly numerous. To trace the 
lines of ancestry on the scale practicable in the other counties would have caused 
an expense prohibitive to the getter-up of the book, and would have placed on 
the book itself a price prohibitive to many prospective purchasers. 

This department of the History of Rockbridge does not purport to be any- 
thing more